A NASA probe has a strange encounter in the asteroid belt! – Future

With Lucy we experience one surprise after another. On November 1, the probe flew past Dinkinesh, a main-belt asteroid between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. This simple stop on LucyLucy’s route to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids turns out to be even more interesting than expected. Last week, Lucy discovered that “Dinky” has a moon orbiting it. A new image released today by NASA shows that this moon is very special.

It takes several days for the teams to collect all the data and images from the flyover. The new image released by NASA is striking. It shows that Dinkinesh’s moon is actually a binary contact body, i.e. a double asteroid whose parts rotate around each other and touch. This is the first time one has been observed, although according to John Spencer, deputy scientific director of the Lucy mission at Boulder University (Colorado, USA), “binary contact bodies appear to be quite common in the solar system,” he adds : “We’ve never seen one orbiting an asteroid.”

Hal Levison, Lucy’s project manager at the South West Research Institute, said: “I never thought a system would look like this. In particular, I don’t understand why the two satellite components are similar in size. It will be fun for the scientific community to solve this problem. »

On the Trojan Road

Lucy must fly over around eight Trojan asteroids, which are part of two groups of asteroids located in Jupiter’s orbit at equal distances from the planet at Lagrange points L4 and L5. These prisoners would be witnesses to the formation of the solar system. Their in-situ study is therefore eagerly awaited by scientists. The flyby of Dinkinesh is a dress rehearsal before reaching the Trojans starting in 2027. Another main belt asteroid flyby named Donaldjohanson is planned for 2025.

A NASA probe just made a surprising discovery by flying over its first asteroid

Article by Daniel ChrétienDaniel Chrétien, published November 3, 2023.

This Wednesday, November 1st, NASA’s Lucy probe flew past the asteroid Dinkinesh and discovered the presence of a moon around it! The first images released by NASA are exciting. Futura takes stock.

It is the first flyby in a long series for the American probe. Lucy, a 1,550-pound NASA probe, sets off to encounter Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid; The latter have the peculiarity of being in the same orbit as the largest planet in the solar system and are divided into two different groups. The asteroid Dinkinesh is not a Trojan Jupiter, it is located closer to the Sun as part of the main belt. Its flybys serve as a dress rehearsal for the probe and its scientific instruments.

Double Dinky test

First discovery of the Lucy probe: (152830) Dinkinesh is actually a double asteroid! Teams from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and NASA had suspected this for several weeks as they observed how the asteroid’s brightness changed over time. The Dinkinesh binary star reminds us of the Dydimos-Dimorphos pair visited and encountered by NASA’s Dart probe.

Dinky’s flyby in particular is an important test for Lucy and her instruments. The first data obtained by NASA shows that the tracking system worked correctly, even though Dinkinesh is the smallest asteroid in the main belt so far. It will take another week for the probe to receive the remaining data during the flyby. These will characterize the behavior of the probe, which will be used to prepare for subsequent flybys.

A first flight over a long route

Lucy departed from Cape Canaveralcap Canaveral on October 16, 2021. It wasn’t until two years later, on November 1, 2023, that the probe made its first flyby of asteroids. As part of the main belt (152830), Dinkinesh is not a priority science target of the mission. Lucy is initially interested in the Trojan asteroids of the more distant Jupiter, which could well be witnesses to the formation of our solar system. Dinkinesh – also known as “Dinky” – simply gets in Lucy’s way. In addition, a flyby of another main belt asteroid called (55246) Donaldjohanson is planned for 2025. The first Trojan flyby is scheduled for 2027. Lucy will continue its flybys until 2033.

The Lucy probe embarked on a long journey to find “fossil” asteroids

On October 16, NASA launched the Lucy probe, a new research vessel designed to study so-called “Trojan” asteroids that are in the same orbit as Jupiter. After a successful launch, Lucy’s mission is expected to span 12 years and enable her to provide researchers with keys to understanding the formation of the solar system.

Article by Dorian De Shaepmeester, published on October 23, 2021

Will Lucy soon become NASA’s new flagship researcher? The probe launched at 11:34 a.m. (French time) on Saturday, October 16, lifting off aboard an Atlas VAtlas V rocket from Kennedy Space CenterKennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. An hour later, Lucy separated from the launch vehicle’s second stage. In about thirty minutes, the probe’s solar panels were quickly deployed and the phase of powering the instruments began. This is the beginning of twelve years of space exploration for Lucy, who experiences disappointment just hours after launch.

A first technical problem that must be faced

The American space agency quickly confirmed that the panels were opened correctly and functioning, but a problem was quickly pointed out: one of the two solar panels was poorly locked. Nevertheless, NASA engineers assured that the probe’s power supply was running correctly. In a statement dated October 17, the agency explains: “The team is currently analyzing the data from the device to understand the situation and develop a solution for the full deployment of the solar panel.”

If NASA is optimistic, it remains difficult to predict the long-term effects of this anomaly. Solar panels play an important role in the mission. Of the 800 kilos of the probe (empty), the two solar panels weigh 154 kilos and 77 kilos each and each have a diameter of 7.3 meters. Covering such a surface allows the probe to continue to capture the light emitted by the Sun as it flies over Jupiter’s surroundings, since the orbit of the planet and the Trojan asteroids is very far from the star, at 747 million kilometers (or 5). astronomical units (astronomical units).

A long, unique journey

Lucy therefore begins a six-year journey to the so-called “Trojan” asteroids. The latter are groups consisting of several asteroids located in the orbit of Jupiter at the Lagrange points L4 and L5 and either follow or precede the gas giant by 60°. As the probe rotates around the sun, it will move in an orbit close to that of Earth. The device will carry out a first gravity assist around the planet in October 2022, then a second one in December 2024. Lucy will therefore set off at a speed of around 108,000 km/h to confront the Trojans. As it passes through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in 2025, the probe will briefly fly past (52246) Donaldjohanson, one of the main bodies in this region of the solar system.

Arrival in the Trojans’ L4 sector will not occur until August 2027. Lucy will then provide her arsenal of instruments to begin studying the composition and geology of four asteroids: (11351) Leucos, (15094) Polymèle, (21900) Oros and (3548) Eurybates, 11351 Leukos. In 2030, Lucy will perform a third and final gravity assist 400 miles from Earth before setting off on the final leg of her adventure: the L5 Lagrange point. It will then fly over the double asteroid system consisting of (617) Patroclus and Menetius.

NASA has not yet planned to extend Lucy’s mission beyond 2033. By then, the probe should give us keys to understanding the history of the solar system and allow us to confirm or refute the theory that explains the current distribution of planets around the Sun. the so-called Nice model. Nice model.

Who is Lucy, the space probe that will set off on a long journey on Saturday?

Article by Dorian de SchaepmeesterDorian de Schaepmeester, published on October 16, 2021

On October 16, NASA will launch its Lucy probe heading toward Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, celestial bodies that orbit the sun in the same orbit as the gas giant gas giant. Lucy will operate until 2033 and will conduct several asteroid study missions.

NASA begins conquering Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. The space agency will launch a probe on October 16 that will target these celestial bodies near the gas giant’s orbit. The device, named Lucy, will travel for six years before conducting the bulk of its observations between 2027 and 2033. Lucy will dedicate herself to the study of these asteroids to determine their origin and to confirm or refute the Nice model, explaining the inequality of celestial bodies at the origin of the formation of the solar system.

Lucy or the origin of the solar system

The project to study Trojan asteroids goes back several years. The American planetary scientists Harold Levison and Cathy Olkin from the SwRI (Southwest Research Institute) in Colorado were behind the development of the Lucy probe in 2010. The ambitious project was then integrated into the solar system exploration program in 2014 and 1992 by NASA, DiscoveryDiscovery. After years of research, construction of the probe began in 2019 and took two years. Lucy was supposed to make precise measurements of the Trojan bodies using her precision instruments: a high-resolution camera called LORRI (for Lucy’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager), another camera used for navigation, the TTCam, and two spectrometers, the first of which allows the creation of images of the near-infrared spectrum (L’Raph) and the other is an infrared spectrometer called L’TES (for Lucy’s Thermal Emission Spectrometer).

This wealth of instruments will provide Lucy and Southwest Research Institute researchers with the opportunity to learn more about these unexplored asteroids. During its flybys, the probe will record various elements that detail the composition of the bodies, their structures or even their masses, with the aim of carrying out a real study of the evolution of the solar system and past interactions with its various celestial objects.


The start takes place on Saturday, October 16th.

After launch, Lucy will benefit from Earth’s gravity assist twice before heading to the Lagrange points L4 and L5, where the asteroid systems (Troyens L4 and Trojan L5) that the probe will study are located. Because these celestial bodies, which gravitationally precede or follow Jupiter by 60° in the orbit of Jupiter, could be one of the keys to understanding the formation of the solar system.

The Nice model in the test

Lucy will focus on six asteroids: the dual system (617) Patroclus and Menetios, (15094) Polymelus, (3548) Eurybates, (11351) Leucos, (21900) Oros. These asteroids will allow us to return to the origins of the solar system, as they were subject to the gravitational influence of the planets during the birth of the current solar system. The Nice model, detailed in a 2005 study published in the journal Nature, is based on the following theory: long after the dissolution of the protoplanetary disk, the gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Saturn, Neptune, Neptune and Uranus, Uranus ) gradually moves away from the disk Sun to connect their current orbits, causing perturbations in the orbit of lighter bodies and the accumulation of systems such as the L4 and L5 Trojans, the Oort Cloud, the Oort Cloud or the Kuiper Belt and the Kuiper Belt.

Will the small probe from NASA and the Southwest Research Institute be able to confirm or refute one of the most popular theories about the formation of the solar system? Reaction to the end of the Lucy mission planned by the American space agency in 2033.