Wednesday, April 17, 2024

NASA’s Lucy asteroid-hopping spacecraft pins down ages of 1st asteroid targets

BiochemistryNASA's Lucy asteroid-hopping spacecraft pins down ages of 1st asteroid targets



Last November, when NASA’s Lucy spacecraft flew past its first official asteroid target named Dinkinesh, it found the space rock was not one, not two but three rocks huddled together. While scientists were surprised to spot Selam, Dinkinesh’s natural satellite, they were shocked to discover that Selam itself was, in fact, two objects melded together.

Dinkinesh (Amharic for “marvelous”) was randomly selected as an engineering test for Lucy’s terminal tracking system that allows the spacecraft to autonomously pinpoint an asteroid’s location and keep it within its field of view. Scientists said they had conservative requirements for the probe’s stability.

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