May 25, 2024

Surprise! NASA’s Lucy spacecraft gets a new asteroid target!

3 min read

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NASA’s Lucy staff has discovered a small, as-however unnamed asteroid in the interior most important belt, specified (152830) 1999 VD57, as a likely new and helpful concentrate on for the spacecraft.

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft has obtained a new asteroid focus on. In accordance to the details provided by the place analysis organisation, Lucy spacecraft will add a further asteroid encounter to its 4-billion-mile journey. On November 1, 2023, the spacecraft will get a near-up look at of a small primary-belt asteroid to carry out an engineering test of the spacecraft’s ground breaking asteroid-monitoring navigation method.

The Lucy mission is presently breaking documents by planning to check out 9 asteroids during its 12-year tour of the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, which orbit the Solar at the very same length as Jupiter. Originally, Lucy was not scheduled to get a shut-up see of any asteroids till 2025, when it will fly by the principal belt asteroid (52246) Donaldjohanson. Nonetheless, the Lucy staff recognized a little, as-nonetheless unnamed asteroid in the interior most important belt, selected (152830) 1999 VD57, as a opportunity new and practical concentrate on for the Lucy spacecraft.

“There are hundreds of thousands of asteroids in the primary asteroid belt,” reported Raphael Marschall, Lucy collaborator of the Pleasant Observatory in France, who discovered asteroid 1999 VD57 as an object of exclusive fascination for Lucy. “I selected 500,000 asteroids with nicely-defined orbits to see if Lucy may be traveling near ample to get a excellent glance at any of them, even from a length. This asteroid really stood out. Lucy’s trajectory as at first created will consider it inside 40,000 miles of the asteroid, at minimum three periods closer than the next closest asteroid,” Marschall extra.

The Lucy group realized that, by incorporating a tiny maneuver, the spacecraft would be capable to get an even nearer seem at this asteroid. So, on January 24, the team formally extra it to Lucy’s tour as an engineering exam of the spacecraft’s pioneering terminal monitoring method. This new program solves a very long-standing problem for flyby missions: during a spacecraft’s tactic to an asteroid, it is pretty difficult to decide accurately how far the spacecraft is from the asteroid, and just which way to stage the cameras.

It turns out that 1999 VD57 supplies an fantastic option to validate this hardly ever-just before-flown technique. The geometry of this encounter—particularly the angle that the spacecraft ways the asteroid relative to the Sun—is pretty comparable to the mission’s planned Trojan asteroid encounters. This will allow the team to have out a costume rehearsal under similar ailments very well in progress of the spacecraft’s main scientific targets, NASA stated.

This asteroid was not identified as a goal previously mainly because it is particularly modest. In reality, 1999 VD57, estimated to be a mere .4 miles (700 m) in measurement, will be the smallest main belt asteroid ever visited by a spacecraft. It is substantially far more related in measurement to the close to-Earth asteroids visited by recent NASA missions OSIRIS-REx and DART than to beforehand visited most important belt asteroids.

The Lucy crew will have out a series of maneuvers commencing in early May well 2023 to area the spacecraft on a trajectory that will go somewhere around 280 miles (450 km) from this tiny asteroid.


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