This astonishing Asteroid has a Moon; NASA's Lucy Mission discovers | Tech News

This astonishing Asteroid has a Moon; NASA's Lucy Mission discovers

NASA Lucy Mission has found an asteroid that has its own Moon. Here’s more about it.

| Updated on: Aug 17 2022, 09:58 IST
This asteroid is worth $10,000 Quadrillion
Asteroid belt
1/6 hereas other asteroids are generally made up of ice or rocks, this unique asteroid is made up of nickel, which is one of the building blocks of the solar system. One of the biggest asteroids in our Solar System, the 16 Psyche asteroid is made up of gold, nickel and iron deposits and is supposedly worth more than Earth's economy. The asteroid is worth nearly $10,000 Quadrillion. (NASA)
Asteroid belt
2/6 The Psyche Mission will also help scientists to study and understand iron cores, a previously unexplored building block of planet formation. The 16 Psyche asteroid mission is a part of NASA's Discovery missions. (Pixabay)
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3/6 The findings of this mission could enable scientists to develop a way of using asteroids as resources. Asteroids could come in handy when building structures in space, such as bases on other planets or even the Moon. Due to their 85 percent metal structure, they could be an excellent source of minerals. It is even said that the raw materials extracted from asteroids could even exceed the metal reserves present on Earth. (NASA)
Asteroid belt
4/6 The mission has been in the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations since March 2021. Since the launch window is limited, scientists and engineers have worked round the clock in order to finish the spacecraft's assembly in time. However, due to unexpected software issues, the mission has now been delayed and pushed to 2023. (NASA)
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5/6 NASA said, "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11. The mission team needs more time to ensure that the software will function properly in flight." (NASA)
Asteroid belt
6/6 In order to reach the asteroid, the spacecraft will fly by Mars for a gravity assist in May 2023 and, in early 2026, orbit around asteroid Psyche in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA says that the Psyche mission is expected to launch in both 2023 and 2024, but due to the uncertainties, the exact dates of these potential launch periods are yet to be determined. (NASA)
Asteroid belt
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The asteroid, called Polymele, is nearly 480 million miles from Earth, reveals NASA. (NASA/JPL)

NASA's Lucy Mission has made an astonishing discovery. This trojan asteroid-seeking spacecraft discovered an asteroid called Polymele that has its own satellite. The day this discovery was made, the Lucy Mission team were planning to study the occultation of the star as the asteroid passed around it. The team itself was divided into 26 teams to measure the location, size, and shape of Polymele with precision while it was outlined by the star behind it, according to NASA.

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.

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What is Lucy Mission?

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.

According to NASA, the Lucy spacecraft was initially destined to visit 1 asteroid belt and 6 asteroids. However, in January 2021, the team used the Hubble Space Telescope and discovered that one of the asteroids had its own satellite. So, Lucy spacecraft is now on course to visit 9 asteroids during its 12-year journey.

Lucy program scientist Tom Statler at NASA Headquarters in Washington said, “Lucy's tagline started out: 12 years, seven asteroids, one spacecraft. We keep having to change the tagline for this mission, but that's a good problem to have.”

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First Published Date: 17 Aug, 09:58 IST