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A small moon has been found orbiting an asteroid by a spacecraft from NASA.
Science & Health Technology

A small moon has been found orbiting an asteroid by a spacecraft from NASA.

The small asteroid that was visited by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft this week held a major surprise for researchers.

Upon further investigation, it has been discovered that the asteroid Dinkinesh has a small companion known as a mini moon.

During the flyby of Dinkinesh on Wednesday, which is located 480 million kilometers (300 million miles) away in the asteroid belt past Mars, the discovery was made. The spacecraft captured an image of the two objects when it was approximately 435 kilometers (270 miles) away.

The spacecraft’s data and images sent to Earth revealed that Dinkinesh has a diameter of only 0.5 miles (790 meters). Its nearby moon has a diameter of just 0.1 miles (220 meters).

NASA successfully launched the spacecraft named Lucy in 2021 with the purpose of conducting a practice run for the larger and enigmatic asteroids located near Jupiter. The spacecraft is scheduled to reach the first Trojan asteroid in 2027 and will spend at least six years studying it. The initial list of seven target asteroids has now expanded to a total of 11.

The Amharic term “Dinkinesh” translates to “you are marvelous” and is the name given to Lucy, the 3.2 million year old hominid fossil discovered in Ethiopia in the 1970s. This name is also used for the spacecraft named after her.

Hal Levison, the lead scientist from Southwest Research Institute, stated that Dinkinesh truly lived up to its name and was marvelous.