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Asteroids: NASA’s Lucy probe surprises us again

Asteroids: NASA’s Lucy probe surprises us again


The first images sent by NASA’s “Lucy” probe to Earth a few days ago were surprising. They showed that Dinkenish, contrary to what was previously thought, is not a single asteroid, but rather a pair of asteroids. And now there’s another surprise.

Because new images, data and analyzes have shown that the smaller object itself also consists of two parts, like NASA mentioned. It is a pair of asteroids of approximately the same size orbiting the larger asteroid, which has a circumference of about 790 metres.

This is the first time something like this has been observed. NASA experts were initially unable to explain exactly how everything worked. “It’s wonderful that nature can surprise us with a new mystery,” said researcher Tom Statler.

Test flight on the way to Jupiter Troy

At the beginning of November, “Lucy” flew near “Dinkinish” at a distance of about 400 kilometers and at a speed of about 16 thousand kilometers per hour. It was a test flight to see if the probe’s scientific instruments worked.

“Lucy” was launched in 2021 from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in the US state of Florida. The more than 14-metre-long probe is on its way to the asteroids of Jupiter, and is supposed to fly by seven of the so-called Jupiter Trojans: Eurybates, Quetta, Polymel, Leucus, Aurus, Patroclus and Menoetius – all named after heroes of ancient myth.” Homer’s Iliad.

Jupiter Trojans are asteroids that orbit the Sun in the same orbit as Jupiter, preceded by one swarm and followed by another swarm. They are considered “planet formation fossils,” which is why NASA hopes the mission will provide new insights into the formation of planets and our solar system. “Dinkinesh” is not a Trojan horse for Jupiter.

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