NEW DELHI: On November 1, Nasa said that its Lucy spacecraft completed its first flyby of an asteroid called Dinkinesh, often nicknamed ‘Dinky.’ The asteroid is relatively small and situated in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter.
This achievement is a crucial step in Lucy’s mission, as it’s the first of 10 asteroids that the spacecraft will visit over the next 12 years, reported
After the flyby, Nasa officials wrote in a blog post that, “Based on the information received, the team has determined that the spacecraft is in good health. The team has commanded the spacecraft to start downlinking the data collected during the encounter.”
The spacecraft mission is part of Nasa’s ambitious plan to uncover the mysteries of our solar system’s history. While Lucy will pass by some nearby asteroids like Dinky, its primary goal is to visit distant Trojan asteroids that orbit the sun near Jupiter.
Scientists are eager to learn more about these Trojans because they are believed to be ancient remnants of our solar system, like pieces of a puzzle that helped build the planets.
Lucy’s flyby of Dinky can be seen as a test run. Many of the spacecraft’s instruments were put to the test while collecting data about the first asteroid, including a color imager, a high-resolution camera, and an infrared spectrometer.
According to the blog post, data collected by these instruments will take about a week to be sent back to Earth, allowing the team to “look forward to seeing how the spacecraft performed during this first in-flight test of a high-speed asteroid encounter.”
After this, Lucy will return to Earth to get a gravitational boost that will propel it towards its second asteroid target, named 52246 Donaldjohanson.
According to, The asteroid is named after the co-discoverer of the Lucy fossil, American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson (representative of one the earliest human ancestors, for which the spacecraft is named).
And by the way, “Dinkinesh” is simply another name for the Lucy fossil, which also means “you are marvelous,” as you are, Lucy.
(With input from agencies)

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