NASA has been surprised to discover a ‘night’ moon orbiting a nearby asteroid

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft, which launched in October 2021 to survey Jupiter’s asteroids, snapped a photo of a smaller asteroid near Mars last week that gave scientists a shocking surprise.

The asteroid Lucy took a picture of is called Dinkinesh, and it turns out the space rock has a fuzzy moon orbiting it.

The Associated Press reported that the discovery was made when Lucy conducted a flyby alongside Dinkins in Mar’s main asteroid belt, nearly 300 million miles away.

NASA Spacecraft Caught a ‘Hanging Face’ on Mars

NASA's Asteroid Dinkines

This photo provided by NASA shows a photo taken by the Lucy spacecraft during Wednesday, November 1, 2023, near asteroid Dinkins, 300 million miles from Earth. It turns out that Dinkynes, which is only half a mile in diameter, has a boring sidekick … just a tenth of a mile. This little company was a surprise to everyone. ((NASA via AP))

The photo was reportedly taken when Lucy was 270 miles away from Dinkins and then sent the data and images back to earth.

The findings included the size of Dinkinesh, which was only half a mile in diameter, and its tiny moon, about a tenth of a mile across.

The mission to take pictures of Dinkinesh was a rehearsal for a much bigger mission, which is to look at the mysterious asteroids near Jupiter.


Lucy launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Lucy spacecraft is seen in this 2-minute, 30-second exposure photo as it blasts off from Space Launch Complex 41, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. Like the mission’s namesake – the fossilized human ancestor, ‘Lucy’, whose skeleton provided unique insight into the evolution of humanity, Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The 12-year mission, which launched on October 16, 2021, is the first mission to Jupiter’s asteroids.

Asteroids orbit the sun and are at the same distance as Jupiter.

Lucy is expected to reach the first of the so-called Trojan asteroids in 2027 and explore them for at least six years. What started as a list of seven asteroids to research has grown to 11.


The name Dinkinesh means “you are wonderful” in the Amharic language of Ethiopia. It is also the Amharic name for Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old remains of a human ancestor found in Ethiopia in 19702, for whom the spacecraft is named.

“Dinkins really lived up to his name; that’s wonderful,” said Hal Levison, chief scientist at the Southwest Research Institute.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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