A NASA probe has a strange encounter in the Asteroid Belt!

2023-11-09 04:42:21

We go from surprise to surprise with Lucy. On November 1, the probe flew over Dinkinesh, a Main Belt asteroid between the orbits of Mars and JupiterJupiter. This simple stop on LucyLucy’s route to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids turns out to be even more interesting than expected. Already last week, Lucy discovered that “ Dinky » has a moon orbiting around it. Today, a new image released by NASA shows that this moon is very special.

It takes teams several days to collect all the data and images from the flyover. The new image published by NASA is striking. It shows that the moon Dinkinesh is in reality a binary contact body, in other words a double asteroid, each part of which rotates around each other, while touching. This is the first time that one has been observed, although according to John Spencer, deputy scientific leader of the Lucy mission at Boulder University (Colorado, United States), “ contact binary bodies seem rather common in the Solar System. He adds, “ we have never seen one orbiting an asteroid ».

Hal Levison, Lucy Project Manager at Souhtwest Research Instituteprecise : ” I never imagined a system would look like this. In particular, I don’t understand why the two satellite components have a similar 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, that is to say which are part of two groups of asteroids located in the orbit of Jupiter, at equal distance from the planet, at the Lagrange pointsLagrange points L4 and L5. These prisoners would be witnesses to the formation of the Solar System. Their study on site is therefore eagerly awaited by scientists. The overview 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 has just made a surprising discovery by flying over its first asteroid

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

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

This is the first flyby in a long series for the American probe. Lucy, a 1,550 kilo NASA probe, sets off to meet the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter; the latter have the particularity of being in the same orbit as the largest planet in the Solar System and are divided into two distinct groups. The asteroid Dinkinesh is not a Trojan Jupiter, it is closer to the SunSun 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 in fact a double asteroid! The teams of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and NASA had already begun to suspect this for several weeks, seeing the brightness of the asteroid change over time. The Dinkinesh binary reminds us of the Dydimos-Dimorphos pair visited and impacted by NASA’s Dart probe.

Above all, Dinky’s flyby is an important test for Lucy and her instruments. The first data received by NASA show that the system tracking worked correctly, although Dinkinesh is the smallest main belt asteroid so far. It will take another week to receive the rest of the data collected by the probe during the flyby. These will characterize the behavior of the probe, which will be used to prepare subsequent flybys.

A first flight over a long road

Lucy took off from Cape Canaveralcap Canaveral on October 16, 2021. It was only two years later, on November 1, 2023, that the probe made its first flyby of asteroids. Part of the main belt, (152830) Dinkinesh is not a priority scientific target of the mission. Lucy is first interested in the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter, more distant, which could well be witnesses to the formation of our Solar System. Dinkinesh – aka “Dinky” – is simply in Lucy’s way. Moreover, a flyby of another main belt asteroid, named (55246) Donaldjohanson, is planned for 2025. The first flyby of a Trojan is planned for 2027. Lucy will continue its flybys until 2033.

The Lucy probe set off on a long journey to encounter “fossil” asteroids

On October 16, NASA launched the Lucy probe, a new exploration vessel intended to study so-called “Trojan” asteroids, located in the same orbit as Jupiter. After a successful start, Lucy’s mission should extend over 12 years and should allow her to provide researchers with keys to understanding the formation of the Solar System.

Article by Dorian De Shaepmeester, published on 10/23/2021

Is Lucy about to become NASA’s new flagship explorer? The probe launched Saturday October 16 at 11:34 a.m. (French time), took off aboard an Atlas V rocket from the Kennedy Space CenterKennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. An hour later, Lucy detached from the second stage of the launcher. In around thirty minutes, the probe’s solar panels were quickly deployed, thus beginning the phase of supplying energy to the instruments. This is the start of a 12-year space exploration for Lucy, who experiences disappointments a few hours after the launch.

A first technical problem to face

The American space agency quickly confirmed that the panels were correctly open and functional, but a problem was quickly pointed out: one of the two solar panels would be poorly locked. NASA engineers were nevertheless reassuring, indicating that the energy supply to the probe was proceeding correctly. In a press release dated October 17, the agency explains that “ The team is currently analyzing data from the device to understand the situation and develop a solution to fully deploy the solar panelsolar panel ».

If NASA is optimistic, it remains difficult to predict the impact of this anomaly in the long term. Solar panels play an important role in the mission. Of the 800 kilos of the probe (empty), the two solar panels weigh 154 kilos, or 77 kilos each, and measure 7.3 meters in diameter each. Covering such a surface will allow the probe to continue to capture the light emitted from the Sun when it flies over the vicinity of Jupiter, the orbit of the planet and the Trojan asteroids being very far from the star, at 747 million kilometers ( or 5 astronomical unitsastronomical units).

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A long, unique journey

Lucy therefore begins a six-year journey towards the so-called “Trojan” asteroids. The latter are groups composed of several asteroids located in the orbit of Jupiter, at the Lagrange points L4 and L5, either following or preceding the gas giant by 60°. The probe will evolve in an orbit close to that of the Earth in its rotation around the Sun. The device will carry out a first gravitational assistgravitational assist around the planet in October 2022, then a second in December 2024. With a speed speed of around 108,000 km/h, Lucy will therefore set off to meet the Trojans. During its crossing of the asteroid belt located 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 take place until August 2027. Lucy will then make her arsenal of instruments available to begin studying the composition and geology of four asteroids: (11351) Leucos, (15094) Polymèle , (21900) Oros and (3548) Eurybates, 11351 Leucos. In 2030, a third and final gravitational assist will be carried out by Lucy, 640 kilometers from Earth, before leaving for the last stage of her adventure: the Lagrange point L5. It will then fly over the double asteroidal system composed of (617) Patroclus and Menetios.

NASA has not yet planned to extend Lucy’s mission beyond 2033. The probe should, by then, provide us with keys to understanding the history of the Solar System, allowing us to validate or refute the theory explaining the current distribution of planets around the Sun, called the Nice modelNice model.

Who is Lucy, the space probe which will take off on Saturday for a long journey?

Article de Dorian de SchaepmeesterDorian de Schaepmeester, published on 16/10/2021

On October 16, NASA will launch its Lucy probe which will head towards the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter, celestial bodies orbiting the Sun in the same orbit as that of the gas giantgas giant. Lucy, operational until 2033, will carry out several study missions concerning asteroids.

NASA is embarking on the conquest of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. The space agency will launch on October 16 a probe aimed at these celestial bodies located near the orbit of the gas giant. Named Lucy, the device will travel for six years before carrying out the majority of its observations between 2027 and 2033. Lucy will devote herself to the study of these asteroids, in order to determine their origins and to confirm or invalidate the Nice model, explaining the disparity 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 dates back several years. American planetary scientists Harold Levison and Cathy Olkin of SwRI (Southwest Research Institute) in Colorado, were behind the development of the Lucy probe in 2010. Ambitious, the project was then integrated in 2014 into the Solar System exploration program launched in 1992 by NASA, DiscoveryDiscovery. After years of research, the probe began to be built in 2019, lasting two years. Lucy should carry out precise measurements of the Trojan bodies using its precision instruments: a high-resolution camera called LORRI (for Lucy’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager), another camera used for navigation, the TTCam and two spectrometersspectrometers, the first allowing to produce imaging in the near-infrared spectrumspectrum (L’Raph) and the other being an infrared spectrometer called L’TES (for Lucy’s Thermal Emission Spectrometer).

This plethora of instruments will offer Lucy and the researchers Southwest Research Institute an opportunity to learn more about these still unexplored asteroids. During their flybys, the probe will record various elements detailing the composition of the bodies, their structures or even their masses, with the aim of carrying out a real study on the evolution of the Solar System and past interactions with its various celestial objects.

Launch to follow on Saturday October 16.

After its launch, Lucy will benefit from Earth’s gravitational assistance twice before heading towards Lagrange Points L4 and L5, where the asteroid systems (Troyens L4 and Trojans L5) that the probe will study are located. . Because these celestial bodies, gravitating in the orbit of Jupiter, preceding or following it by 60°, could be one of the keys to understanding the formation of the Solar System.

The Nice model put to 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 go back to the origins of the Solar System, because they were subject to the gravitational influence of the planets during the birth of the current Solar System. The Nice model, detailed in a study published in 2005 in the magazine Naturehas the following theory: long after the dissipation of the protoplanetary diskprotoplanetary disk, the gas giants (Jupiter, SaturnSaturn, NeptuneNeptune and UranusUranus) would have gradually moved away from the Sun to join their current orbits, thus causing disturbances in the orbit of bodies lighter and the aggregation of systems such as the Trojans L4 and L5, the Oort cloudOort cloud or the Kuiper beltKuiper belt.

The small probe from NASA and Southwest Research Institute will it be able to confirm or refute one of the most popular theories on the formation of the Solar System? Response to the end of the Lucy mission planned by the American space agency, in 2033.

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