NASA’s Lucy Mission has discovered a trojan asteroid that has its own moon. Here’s more about it.
NASA’s Lucy Mission has discovered a trojan asteroid that has its own Moon! The Lucy spacecraft has discovered a trojan asteroid around Jupiter called Polymele that has its own satellite. To observe this, the Lucy Mission team were planning to study the occultation of the star as the asteroid passed around it. NASA divided the mission team into 26 teams to measure the location, size, and shape of Polymele with precision while it was outlined by the star behind it.
Launched in October 2021, the Lucy spacecraft is set to become the first spacecraft to reach more asteroids than any other previous spacecraft. The Lucy spacecraft made this stunning discovery in March when it discovered a Moon revolving around a trojan asteroid.
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.
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.