Rehearsal for a Greater Mission
The recent flyby of Dinkinesh by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft in Mars’ main asteroid belt has led to a remarkable discovery. Lucy, located nearly 300 million miles away, captured an incredible picture of Dinkinesh when it was only 270 miles away. The data and images were then transmitted back to Earth.
The findings from the mission revealed that Dinkinesh is a small asteroid, measuring just barely a half-mile across, with a crater approximately a tenth-of-a-mile wide. This close encounter served as a rehearsal for a more ambitious undertaking – exploring the enigmatic asteroids near Jupiter.
A Pioneer Mission
Launched on October 16, 2021, the Lucy mission is an unprecedented endeavor. It marks the first mission to the Trojan asteroids, located in orbits around the sun at the same distance as Jupiter. Lucy is anticipated to reach the first of these asteroids in 2027 and conduct an in-depth exploration for a minimum of six years.
Expanding the List
Originally planned to research seven asteroids, the mission has now expanded to include eleven targets of interest. Each of these celestial objects harbors secrets waiting to be unraveled.
A Marvelous Encounter
Dinkinesh, meaning “you are marvelous” in the Amharic language of Ethiopia, truly lived up to its name. The Southwest Research Institute’s lead scientist, Hal Levison, expressed his astonishment, stating, “Dinkinesh really did live up to its name; this is marvelous.”
The discovery of Dinkinesh adds another fascinating chapter to the ongoing exploration of our solar system. The mission’s success paves the way for future revelations and a deeper understanding of the universe we inhabit.