NASA’s Lucy spacecraft embarks on a groundbreaking 12-year odyssey to explore a whopping eight different asteroids. Currently, the spacecraft has traveled 4.7 million miles and is fast approaching its first target, an intriguing small asteroid known as Dinikinesh. However, Lucy still has another 16 million miles to traverse before reaching the rendezvous point, which is scheduled for November 1.
Excitement is building among the mission team as they notice Dinikinesh gradually intensifying in brightness. This increase suggests that Lucy is closing in on its target with precision. On September 3, Lucy caught its first glimpse of Dinikinesh and diligently utilized its state-of-the-art high-resolution camera to capture stunning images of the asteroid.
To ensure that Lucy accurately navigates its path, a trajectory correction maneuver occurred on September 29. This correction maneuver positioned the spacecraft on a flyby course within a mere 265 miles of Dinikinesh. Success!
However, there was a temporary radio silence with Lucy from October 6 until mid-October. The spacecraft encountered a communications blackout as it crossed behind the Sun. Nevertheless, NASA scientists remained confident that Lucy would swiftly regain contact once it emerged from the celestial shadow.
Dinikinesh holds a special place in Lucy’s journey as it is not only a test for the spacecraft’s tracking system but also a scientific marvel. The half-mile-wide asteroid earned its spot on Lucy’s itinerary after its discovery in 1999. It remained nameless until scientists selected it as a target for this ambitious mission. Dinikinesh derives its name from Ethiopian culture, meaning “you are marvelous.”
Lucy’s upcoming adventure doesn’t end with Dinikinesh. In 2027, the spacecraft embarks on an enchanting tour of the Trojan asteroids. This grand exploration mission pays homage to the fossil Australopithecine ‘Lucy,’ which unlocked important insights into human evolution. The Ethiopian-inspired name for Dinikinesh further celebrates our shared heritage.
As Lucy continues its epic journey, the world braces to witness the incredible discoveries and revelations this mission promises to unveil. Stay tuned for more updates as Lucy ventures deeper into the vastness of our solar system.
“Zombie enthusiast. Subtly charming travel practitioner. Webaholic. Internet expert.”