DINKINESH !!!! As it might look !
Yesterday, November 1st, a new NASA mission chalked up its first success. It completed a fly-by of a small asteroid called Dinkinesh. The mission is called LUCY – named after a very early fossil human being found in Ethiopia in 1974, and named Lucy by the English-speaking world. Dinkinesh is the Ethiopian name given to this fossil, and to this small member of our Solar System. My astro stereo colleague Claudia Manzoni @lonely_whispers_ distilled this nice stereo of the way the NASA team think the asteroid MIGHT look, as animated on the LUCY website. And I gave it a little polish ! Swipe for parallel or cross eyed views. Then swipe again to see the first glimpse that the LUCY spacecraft captured of the asteroid a few months ago … seen as a faint point of light moving between exposures about 2 days apart (the asteroid flashes in the animation with a circle placed around it for easy location).
The flyby happened yesterday afternoon and the news is that it was a success and all the desired data were acquired. But it will take some days for the LUCY craft to beam the data back down to Earth. The intriguing question is … how will the actual appearance of DINKINESH compare with this artist’s impression ? We’ll be waiting with bated breath – and I’d love to think we’ll be looking at a REAL stereo of this asteroid in a few days time. (💥 Correction) It’s about HALF a mile) across – a bit bigger than Bennu, a bit smaller than Ryugu. But will it turn out to be a solid body like we see here, or a rubble pile like Bennu and Ryugu ? It’s worth noting that this asteroid is NOT in a near-Earth orbit, but resides in an orbit between that of Mars and Jupiter – in the so-called MAIN BELT of asteroids. How intriguing !!!!
Credit : NASA/Goddard/SwRI/Johns Hopkins APL/ Claudia Manzoni/Brian May for the stereos.
Brian May: DINKINESH !! [distant ani] 02/11/2023
LOOK !!! Results are in !!! Humanity’s first look at Dinkinesh reveals that it’s a close binary pair !! Check out the NASA Website for more details ! https://www.nasa.gov/image-article/nasas-lucy-spacecraft-discovers-2nd-asteroid-during-dinkinesh-flyby/.
CONGRATULATIONS to the LUCY team !!!