CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The minor asteroid visited by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft this week experienced a big surprise for experts.
It turns out that the asteroid Dinkinesh has a dinky sidekick — a mini moon.
The discovery was produced all through Wednesday’s flyby of Dinkinesh, 300 million miles (480 million kilometers) away in the principal asteroid belt past Mars. The spacecraft snapped a picture of the pair when it was about 270 miles out (435 kilometers).
In information and pictures beamed back to Earth, the spacecraft confirmed that Dinkinesh is barely a half-mile (790 meters) across. Its intently circling moon is a mere a single-tenth-of-a-mile (220 meters) in dimension.
NASA despatched Lucy past Dinkinesh as a rehearsal for the larger, more mysterious asteroids out in close proximity to Jupiter. Released in 2021, the spacecraft will access the to start with of these so-termed Trojan asteroids in 2027 and explore them for at the very least 6 years. The primary target checklist of seven asteroids now stands at 11.
Dinkinesh means “you are marvelous” in the Amharic language of Ethiopia. It’s also the Amharic title for Lucy, the 3.2 million-calendar year-outdated continues to be of a human ancestor observed in Ethiopia in the 1970s, for which the spacecraft is named.
“Dinkinesh truly did dwell up to its identify this is great,” Southwest Exploration Institute’s Hal Levison, the lead scientist, stated in a assertion.
The Involved Push Wellness and Science Office gets support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Instructional Media Team. The AP is exclusively liable for all articles.