The word “Dinkinesh” means “wonderful” in Amharic, and the small main-belt asteroid Dinkinesh lived up to its Ethiopian nickname: when NASA’s Lucy spacecraft flew past what it had predicted would only be ‘one asteroid, he found two asteroids for the price of one.
“Dinkinesh really lives up to its name; it’s wonderful,” Hal Levison, principal investigator on Lucy of the Boulder, Colo., branch of the San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute, said in a statement. “When Lucy was originally selected for the flight, we planned to fly by seven asteroids. With the addition of Dinkinesh, two Trojan moons and now this satellite, we’ve taken it to 11.”
The largest asteroid in the Dinkinesh pair is thought to be about 805 meters wide. The smaller asteroid of the Dinkinesh pair is thought to be just 0.15 miles or 220 meters across. A spokesperson for Lockheed Martin, NASA’s partner for the Lucy expedition, welcomed the scientific importance of this discovery.
“It’s a great series of images. “They indicate that the terminal’s tracking system worked as designed, even when the universe presented us with a more difficult target than expected,” Tom Kennedy, a guidance and navigation engineer at Lockheed Martin, said in a statement. Kennedy referred to it as a “terminal tracking system” because it allows spacecraft to locate objects and keep them in view despite passing at high speed. Overall, the Lucy mission aimed to test a wide range of equipment. Asteroids interest astronomers for a variety of reasons, including because they can tell us a lot about the formation of our solar system and its planets. Last month, OSIRIS-REx — a spacecraft that recently visited Bennu, an asteroid that could collide with Earth in 2182 —