NASA: Lucy Mission discovers trojan asteroid near Jupiter with its own moon | Tech News

NASA: Lucy Mission discovers trojan asteroid near Jupiter with its own moon

NASA’s Lucy Mission has discovered a trojan asteroid that has its own moon. Here’s more about it.

| Updated on: Aug 18 2022, 11:03 IST
What is an Asteroid? NASA defines what these dangerous objects in sky are
Lucy Mission
1/5 An asteroid is a small, rocky object hurtling through the sky. When seen in a telescope, an asteroid appears as a point of light, according to NASA. Most asteroids are found in a ring between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt. (Pixabay)
Lucy Mission
2/5 Asteroids have several shapes, they may be spherical, elongated, or oddly shaped. Some asteroids even have their own satellites! Asteroids also vary in size. From Vesta, the largest at about 530 kilometers in diameter, to asteroids that are less than 10 meters in diameter, they can be found in all shapes and sizes. (Pixabay)
Lucy Mission
3/5 Asteroids are also called minor planets. These celestial objects are the remains of the period during which our solar system formed, over 4.6 billion years ago. According to NASA, the current known asteroid count is 1,113,527. (HT_PRINT)
Lucy Mission
4/5 Asteroids can potentially threaten life on Earth. Apocalyptic movies like Deep Impact, Armageddon and Don't Look Up have always explored the ‘What Ifs’ of world destruction, with the most famous means of world destruction being asteroids crashing into Earth. (Pixabay)
Lucy Mission
5/5 To counter this, NASA had readied itself to potentially defend the planet against a very similar threat that is posed by asteroids by preparing the DART mission. It involves smashing a spacecraft into an oncoming asteroid at a speed of nearly 23,000kph. This knowledge will be used if an actual asteroid threatens to crash against the Earth. It will help avert an Armageddon on Earth and perhaps, even save humanity from extinction. (NASA)
Lucy Mission
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Lucy Mission was launched in October 2021 to study trojan asteroids. (NASA)

NASA's Lucy Mission has discovered a trojan asteroid that has its own Moon! The Lucy spacecraft has discovered a trojan asteroid around Jupiter called Polymele that has its own satellite. To observe this, the Lucy Mission team were planning to study the occultation of the star as the asteroid passed around it. NASA divided the mission team into 26 teams to measure the location, size, and shape of Polymele with precision while it was outlined by the star behind it.

Launched in October 2021, the Lucy spacecraft is set to become the first spacecraft to reach more asteroids than any other previous spacecraft. The Lucy spacecraft made this stunning discovery in March when it discovered a Moon revolving around a trojan asteroid.

Marc Buie, Lucy occultation science lead at the Southwest Research Institute said, “We were thrilled that 14 teams reported observing the star blink out as it passed behind the asteroid, but as we analyzed the data, we saw that two of the observations were not like the others.”

“Those two observers detected an object around 200 km (about 124 miles) away from Polymele. It had to be a satellite.”

Polymele's satellite is roughly 5 miles in diameter orbiting the asteroid about 200 kilometers from the asteroid. The asteroid itself is almost 17 miles in diameter and is nearly 480 million miles from Earth.

NASA launched its Lucy spacecraft on Oct. 16, 2021 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This was NASA's first space mission to study the Trojans, a group of asteroids which orbit the Sun in two groups, according to NASA. It was built to seek out trojan asteroids millions of miles from Earth.

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First Published Date: 18 Aug, 11:03 IST