Introducing “Dinkinesh” – First Asteroid Goal for NASA’s Lucy Challenge Will get a Identify


codeimg - Introducing “Dinkinesh” – First Asteroid Target for NASA’s Lucy Mission Gets a Name

Lucy will discover the Jupiter Trojan asteroids – regarded as “fossils of planet formation.” Credit score: NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle

The primary asteroid to be visited by means of NASA’s Lucy venture now has a reputation. The World Astronomical Union has authorized the title (152830) Dinkinesh for the tiny primary belt asteroid that the Lucy spacecraft will come upon on November 1, 2023. “Dinkinesh,” or ድንቅነሽ in Amharic, is the Ethiopian title for the human-ancestor fossil, sometimes called Lucy, which used to be present in that nation and recently curated there. Dinkinesh way “you’re marvelous” in Amharic.

“That is in point of fact a tiny little asteroid. One of the staff affectionately seek advice from it as ‘Dinky.’ However, for a small asteroid, we think it to be a large assist for the Lucy venture.” — Hal Levison, Lucy main investigator

In 1999, when the asteroid Dinkinesh used to be first came upon, it used to be given the provisional designation 1999 VD57. It earned an legit quantity, (152830), a number of years later when its orbit used to be sufficiently neatly made up our minds. However, like lots of the tens of millions of small asteroids in the primary asteroid belt, it used to be left unnamed. Alternatively, as soon as the Lucy staff known this asteroid as a goal, the staff proposed this new title, impressed by means of Lucy’s venture to discover remnants of the early sun device.

“This venture used to be named for Lucy as a result of simply as that fossil revolutionized our figuring out of human evolution, we think this venture to revolutionize our figuring out of the foundation and evolution of our sun device,” stated Keith Noll, Lucy undertaking scientist, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We are excited to have another opportunity to honor that connection.”

The main reason the team has added Dinkinesh to Lucy’s already-packed tour (10 asteroids, including the newly discovered satellites) is to test the innovative terminal tracking system, which is critical for precise imaging during these high-speed encounters. While the asteroid is less than half a mile (less than a km) in diameter, it is an excellent opportunity to test out Lucy’s systems prior to the main scientific activities of the mission: learning about the never-before-explored Jupiter Trojan asteroids, which are in many ways fossils of our early solar system.

svg%3E - Introducing “Dinkinesh” – First Asteroid Target for NASA’s Lucy Mission Gets a Name

A size comparison of (152830) Dinkinesh (shown in blue in the artist concept) to the main belt asteroid (2867) Steins and the near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu. Steins is currently the smallest, independently-orbiting main belt asteroid whose surface has been well imaged by a spacecraft (ESA Rosetta). The near-Earth asteroid Bennu was recently explored by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with a sample return expected this September. As a tiny main belt asteroid, Dinkinesh will serve as a link between these two populations. Credit: Montage by NASA Goddard, Image of Steins: ESA/OSIRIS team, Image of Bennu: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

“This is really a tiny little asteroid,” said Hal Levison, Lucy principal investigator, from Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Boulder office. “Some of the team affectionately refer to it as ‘Dinky.’ But, for a small asteroid, we expect it to be a big help for the Lucy mission.”

While the main purpose of this encounter is as an engineering test, mission scientists are also excited for what this tiny asteroid might teach us. This will be the smallest main belt asteroid ever explored, and it is much closer in size to near-Earth asteroids that were recently studied by spacecraft than the main belt asteroids previously visited by other missions.

“At closest approach, if all goes smoothly, we expect Dinkinesh to be 100s of pixels across as seen from Lucy’s sharpest imager,” says Simone Marchi, deputy principal investigator, also from SwRI. “While we won’t be able to see all the details of the surface, even the general shape may indicate whether near-Earth asteroids – which originate in the main belt – change significantly once they enter near-Earth space.”

Dinkinesh may reveal yet another aspect of the evolutionary history of our solar system.

Lucy’s principal investigator is based out of the Boulder, Colorado branch of Southwest Research Institute, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft. Lucy is the 13th mission in NASA’s Discovery Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Discovery Program for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.



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