Scientists Discover Asteroid Orbiting Double Moon


,- NASA's Lucy spacecraft flew past the asteroid Dinkinesh on November 1, 2023.

The mission uncovered an unexpected sight of a pair of moons merging together named Submarine by scientists.

The Lucy mission is a car-sized spacecraft launched on October 16, 2021 and has a mission to study the Jupiter Trojan asteroid, two groups of outer space rocks that lead and fall behind the gas giant as it moves around the sun.

However, in January 2023, astronomers added a small asteroid in the Dinkinesh main belt – commonly referred to as “Dinky” – to the spacecraft's journey plan as its first destination.

As Lucy approached Dinky, astronomers saw signs that the small asteroid was orbiting a smaller moon.

But when Lucy crossed it – at a distance of 430 kilometers from the asteroid while taking hundreds of high-definition photographs – researchers saw that the moon previously named 'Submarine' turned out to be not one, but two 'little moons' touching each other.

Their findings were published on May 29 in the journal Nature.

Such objects are called binary contacts, rarely found in the solar system. How the unusual double moon Dinky formed remains a mystery.

Now, the scientists of the Lucy mission have been further analyzing the images taken by the spacecraft to gather new insights into Dinky and the Submarine, as well as providing a possible explanation for that. How the Diving formed.

The submarine (two moons) rotates simultaneously around its parent asteroid, Dinky, taking about 52.5 hours for a full cycle.

I mean, Dinky only sees one face of his moon mate, just as Earth only sees a face of its moon.

Photos from Lucy's mission also showed that the submarine orbited Dinky at a distance of about 3.1 kilometers. With this data, researchers calculated that it was likely to weigh between 2 million and 20 million tons, and Dinky was 16 times larger.

Currently Lucy will fly back to Earth in December 2024, using the planetary gravity to get enough speed as she passes through the asteroid belt.

It is expected to reach the asteroid Trojan Jupiter in 2027, Science Daily quoted it as saying.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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