NASA’s Lucy spacecraft has discovered an asteroid with its own moon

Binary system, alias DinghyMaintains a Asteroid Small around the main orbit. It saw LucyA probe that explores stars near Jupiter.

spaceship Lucy Found something specific AsteroidA nickname Dinginesh. This body, 480 kilometers in diameter, maintains a special configuration: it has another Asteroid 220 meters orbiting like a kind of moon.

This combination is fondly called DinghyDiscovered by accident, as the team on Earth only wanted to perform a routine test to improve the probe’s capabilities before realizing its true intentions.

Binary asteroids

Talk about this kind of thing Asteroids Twins, so-called binaries, are nothing new NASA. Let’s remember the tasks DART pointed to precisely the same pattern (Dimorphos and Didymos).To calculate how much the moon’s orbit might change with an impact.

In the case 152830 Dinginesh, Scientists do not believe that they will find it in these conditions.

“A binary is definitely a possibility,” he said Scientific American Jessica Sunshine is a planetary scientist at the University of Maryland. “But it wasn’t expected and it’s really cool.”

The scientists NASA They still have a long way to go in their research DingineshOnly about a third of the relevant data has been transmitted to Earth.

However, the company has released a series of images showing the rock and its mock moon.

Thanks to these photos, we can see that the main asteroid is covered in craters, which may be the result of multiple impacts from other asteroids. Scientists, for their part, consider the shape of the younger brother to be “really strange”, so they are waiting for more theories about its origin.

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More data

According to data from NASAAbout 15% of near-Earth asteroids maintain submoons.

After this trip, Lucy It will return to the inner solar system for a fresh approach to Earth in December next year. It will test its terminal observation system again in April 2025 when it passes by the main belt asteroid 52246 DonaldJohansson.

After that, the remaining eight cruise targets are real: Six Jupiter Trojans, two of which have satellites, will be studied by the mission.

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