NASA’s Lucy spacecraft recently encountered the first of 10 asteroids on its journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft flew past the small asteroid Dinkinesh, located about 300 million miles away in the main asteroid belt beyond Mars. This encounter served as a test for Lucy’s instruments before it approaches larger asteroids. Dinkinesh, approximately half a mile across, is likely the smallest asteroid on Lucy’s itinerary. Lucy’s primary targets are the Trojans, groups of unexplored asteroids near Jupiter that are considered to be ancient remnants from the early solar system.
The spacecraft will pass by eight Trojans, estimated to be much larger than Dinkinesh, before its final two asteroid encounters in 2033. Lucy was launched on a nearly $1 billion mission two years ago and is named after the famous fossil “Lucy” found in Ethiopia. Despite a loose solar wing, the mission is expected to continue as planned. The flyby of Dinkinesh marks the conclusion of what NASA has dubbed “Asteroid Autumn.”
Source – CGTN