NASA’s Lucy spacecraft performed a trajectory correction maneuver on May 9 to put the spacecraft on track for a near collision with the tiny main belt asteroid Dinkinesh. The maneuver only increased the spacecraft’s velocity by around 7.7 mph (3.4 m/s).
Despite the fact that the spacecraft is now traveling at around 43,000 mph (19.4 km/s), this slight nudge will bring the spacecraft nearly 40,000 miles (65,000 km) closer to the asteroid during the targeted rendezvous on November 1, 2023. The spacecraft will travel 265 miles (425 kilometers) from the small, half-mile (sub-kilometer) asteroid at a relative speed of 10,000 mph (4.5 km/s).
The Lucy team will continue to monitor the spacecraft’s trajectory and, if necessary, will have more opportunity to fine-tune the flight route.
In addition, the Lucy team is still analyzing data from its spring sensor calibration campaign and making other preparations for the mission’s maiden asteroid encounter. This contact will be an important test of the spacecraft’s systems and procedures, ensuring that everything works as predicted during the mission’s high-speed asteroid collisions.