NASA Surprised to Discover ‘Dingy’ Moon Asteroid Orbiting

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft, launched in October 2021 to study Jupiter’s asteroids, last week snapped a picture of a small asteroid near Mars, giving scientists a stunning surprise.

The asteroid Lucy photographed is named Dinkynesh, and features a dingy moon orbiting the space rock.

The discovery was made during Lucy Dinginesh’s flyby of Mars’ main asteroid belt, nearly 300 million miles away, the Associated Press reported.

NASA spacecraft captures ‘excessive face’ on Jupiter

This photo provided by NASA shows the image taken by the Lucy spacecraft during its flyby of the asteroid Dinginesh on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, 300 million miles from Earth. Dinginesh has a dinghy sidekick that’s a half-mile across … only a tenth of a mile. Everyone was surprised by this little accessory. ((AP via NASA))

The image was taken when Lucy was about 270 miles away from Dinginesh and then transmitted data and images back to Earth.

The findings included the size of Tinginesh, which was just half a mile across, and its smaller moon, which was a tenth of a mile across.

Dinginesh’s mission to take pictures was a rehearsal for a much larger mission looking at mysterious asteroids near Jupiter.

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Lucy boot

In this 2 minute and 30 second exposure photo, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carries the Lucy spacecraft as it launches from Space Launch Complex 41 on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Lucy is the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. Like the mission’s namesake — “Lucy,” a fossil human ancestor whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution — Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origin and the formation of the Solar System. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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The 12-year mission, which launched on October 16, 2021, is the first mission to Jupiter’s asteroids.

Asteroids orbit the Sun and are at the same distance as Jupiter.

Lucy is expected to reach the first of the so-called Trojan asteroids in 2027 and study them for at least six years. The list of seven asteroids to research has grown to 11.

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The name Dinginesh means “you are wonderful” in the Amharic language of Ethiopia. It is also the Amharic name for Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old fossil of a human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 19702, after which the spacecraft is named.

“Dinginesh really lived up to its name; it’s amazing,” Hal Levison, lead scientist at Southwest Research Institute, said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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