In a remarkable discovery, NASA’s spacecraft Lucy has found a small moon accompanying the minor asteroid Dinkinesh. The spacecraft was on a visit to the asteroid, located in the main asteroid belt beyond Mars, when it captured an image of the asteroid and its tiny sidekick. Dinkinesh measures approximately half a mile (790 meters) in diameter, while its moon is a mere one-tenth of a mile (220 meters) in size.
The flyby of Dinkinesh occurred at a distance of about 270 miles from the spacecraft, which then transmitted the data and images back to Earth. The discovery of the moon companion offers valuable insights into the composition and structure of these celestial bodies.
NASA’s Lucy mission serves as a rehearsal for exploring the larger and more enigmatic Trojan asteroids near Jupiter. Launched in 2021, the spacecraft is set to reach the first of these asteroids in 2027 and will spend a minimum of six years conducting thorough investigations. Originally targeting seven asteroids, the mission has now expanded its list to include a total of 11 targets.
The name “Dinkinesh” originates from the Ethiopian Amharic language and translates to “you are marvelous.” Hal Levison, the lead scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, expressed his admiration for the discovery, stating, “Dinkinesh really did live up to its name; this is marvelous.”
This finding adds to NASA’s ever-growing knowledge of the solar system, and the Lucy spacecraft continues to unveil fascinating details about these distant celestial bodies.