November 28, 2023

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NASA’s spacecraft discovered a “mini-moon” around the asteroid during its flyby

NASA’s spacecraft discovered a “mini-moon” around the asteroid during its flyby

This “moonrise” image shows the satellite as it emerges from behind the Dinkenish asteroid, as seen by the Lucy Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (L’LORRI), and is one of the most detailed images returned by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft. Binary asteroid. This image was taken at 12:55 pm on November 1, 2023, less than a minute away from closest approach, from a distance of approximately 430 km. From this perspective, the satellite is located behind the main asteroid. The image has been sharpened and processed to improve contrast.

Image: NASA/Goddard/SwRI/Johns Hopkins APL/NOIRLab

A “mini-moon” was discovered while flying over planet Earth NASA’s Lucy spacecraftamerican space agency, During a visit to asteroid Dinkenish.

This discovery occurred last Wednesday, November 1, during a spacecraft inspection mission of the existing asteroid 480 million kilometers from Earth, in the asteroid belt of the solar system, beyond the planet Mars. The spacecraft, at a distance of about 435 kilometers, took a picture of the asteroid.

However, when looking at the picture, Scientists were surprised when they discovered that the asteroid was actually two rocks. In this way, it was determined that the primary asteroid had a smaller “moon” orbiting it.

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The image showed that it reached the ground “Moonrise” The satellite as it emerges from behind the Dinkenish asteroid and is identified as a binary asteroid. From the spacecraft’s perspective, the satellite, which is only 220 meters across, lies behind the primary asteroid.

β€œWe knew this would be the smallest main belt asteroid ever seen up close. And the fact that there are two of them makes it even more exciting.” Keith Noll, an astronomer and Lucy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release.

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It is worth noting that the Lucy mission owes its name to the fossilized skeleton of a human ancestor, which was named after the Beatles song β€œ“Lucy in the sky with diamonds”. The goal of this ship, according to NASA, is to explore a record number of asteroids flying above it Two asteroids from the main asteroid belt of the solar system and eight Trojan asteroids Which shares its orbit around the sun with Jupiter.

It will take up to a week for the team to transmit the rest of the data from this encounter from the ship. Researchers will use this data to evaluate the spacecraft’s behavior during the encounter and prepare for the next approach to the asteroid, the main belt of the Donald Johansson asteroid, in 2025. Lucy will then be prepared to encounter the mission’s main targets. , Jupiter Trojan asteroids, starting in 2027.

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