By Amira Shehata
Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 08:00 AM
NASA’s Lucy spacecraft is preparing for its first launch A closer look at an asteroidOn Nov. 1, it will fly by asteroid Tingkenisch and test its instruments in preparation for visits over the next decade to several asteroids orbiting the Sun in the same orbit as Jupiter.
According to the Phys website, Dinkenish, which is less than half a mile or a kilometer across, orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Lucy had been watching Dinganish since September 3rd; This will be the first of 10 asteroids that Lucy will visit during its 12-year mission, and to observe these large asteroids, Lucy will not stop or orbit the asteroids, but instead collect data as they pass by. Called “Flyby”.
“This is the first time that Lucy has gotten an up-close look at an object that is about to be revealed to humanity for the first time,” said Hal Levison, Lucy’s principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute.
The primary goal of the Lucy mission, which launched on October 16, 2021, is to study Jupiter’s asteroids, a group of small, as-yet-unexplored objects that orbit the Sun in two clusters that orbit Jupiter.
However, before Lucy reaches the asteroids, it will pass by another large asteroid belt called Donald Johansson in 2025 to conduct further tests of the spacecraft’s systems and processes.
During the Dinkenish flyby, the team will test its terminal tracking system, which will allow the spacecraft to independently determine the asteroid’s location.
Since the encounter was intended to test Lucy’s systems, scientific observations would be simpler than the main objectives of the mission.
The platform carrying the spacecraft and instruments will move into position two hours before approaching Dinglenish. Once the spacecraft is in place, it will begin collecting data using a high-resolution camera (L’LORRI) and a thermal infrared camera (L’TES).