NASA’s spacecraft, Lucy, has made an unexpected and marvelous discovery during its recent visit to the asteroid Dinkinesh. The spacecraft, which was sent past Dinkinesh as a rehearsal for its future mission to explore bigger asteroids near Jupiter, captured a picture of the asteroid and its tiny moon companion from a distance of about 270 miles.
The image confirmed the presence of the moon, which is one-tenth of a mile in size, while Dinkinesh itself is a half-mile across. The discovery of this moon has added to the excitement and anticipation surrounding Lucy’s upcoming mission.
Launched in 2021, Lucy is set to reach the first Trojan asteroid in 2027 and will explore a total of 11 asteroids for at least six years. The original target list of seven asteroids has now been expanded due to the unexpected finding of more potential targets.
The name Dinkinesh holds a special meaning as it means “you are marvelous” in Ethiopia’s Amharic language. This discovery has left scientists and researchers in awe, including Hal Levison, the lead scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, who described the finding as “marvelous.”
Lucy’s mission aims to provide crucial insights into the formation of the solar system by studying these ancient asteroids. By analyzing the composition and structure of the asteroids, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of Earth’s origins and evolution.
This unexpected discovery of a moon around Dinkinesh underscores the significance of the Lucy mission and highlights the constant surprises and mysteries that space exploration unravels. As Lucy continues its journey towards the Trojan asteroids, scientists eagerly await more discoveries and revelations that will deepen our understanding of the universe.