Sep 12, 2023 by Fat Fish Farmer
The NASA Lucy mission is a 12-year voyage to fly by and investigate a number of Trojan asteroids out beyond 2 AU. The spacecraft’s first testing target is the relatively small ½ mile main belt asteroid named Dinkinesh.
Observations made by Lucy’s high-resolution camera, the L’LORRI instrument (Lucy LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager) caught the first candids of the rock in motion earlier this month.
Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds
Forgive me. I couldn’t resist the song reference here.
The Asteroid Dinkinesh from 14 Million Miles
Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/SwRI/Johns Hopkins APL
On the right the small dot moving against the background of stars is the rock. In the left frame Dinkinesh is highlighted by circles.
The brightest star in this field of view is HD 34258, a 7.6 magnitude star in the constellation Auriga. This star is too dim to be seen by the naked eye from Earth. What?
At this distance, Dinkinesh is only 19 magnitude, about 150,000 times fainter than that star.
The frame is about 74,500 miles across (120,000 km) and Celestial north is to the right.
The Lucy spacecraft will continue toward Dinkinesh until its closest approach of 265 miles (425 km) on Nov. 1, 2023.
The Lucy team will use the Dinkinesh encounter as an opportunity to test out spacecraft systems and procedures, focusing on the spacecraft’s terminal tracking system, designed to keep the asteroid within the instruments’ fields of view as the spacecraft flies by at 10,000 mph (4.5 km/s).
The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland provided the L’LORRI instrument for the Lucy mission.
See this link for NASA Lucy Mission details.
The Earth and the Moon in Black
Last year on Oct 13, 2022, Lucy snapped a pic of the Earth and Moon from 890,000 miles with its Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM) system, a pair of identical cameras that are responsible for tracking the asteroids during Lucy’s high-speed encounters.
The Earth and Moon in the Black
Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/SwRI
Yes. Lucy is closer to the Earth than the Moon hence the somewhat exaggerated relative size difference.
The techno thriller novel, Weight of Space, begins with a similarly awesome view out the helmet (lid) of an astronaut. The man’s out on an EVA repair mission on the radio telescope array in L5 Space. He’s only a short hop from home.
As usual, the black and white image fails to capture the colored stars and galaxies that always fill the background in the Black.