US space agency NASA’s Lucy’s science team has discovered a satellite around the smallest of the mission’s targets asteroids, Polymele.
With occultation data, the team analyzed that the satellite was 3 miles (5 km) in diameter, orbiting Polymele, which is itself around 17 miles (27 km).
The two space bodies were at a distance of 125 miles (200 km). No name has yet been given to the satellite until the scientific team can determine its orbit. At the particular observation of Polymele, the asteroid was 480 million miles away from Earth.
The Lucy team had originally planned on visiting one main belt asteroid and six Trojan asteroids, previously unexplored, and following Jupiter in its orbit around the sun.
The team used the Hubble Space Telescope to discover a satellite with one of the Trojan asteroids, Eurybates, and Polymele.
“Lucy’s tagline started: 12 years, seven asteroids, one spacecraft,” said Tom Statler, Lucy program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We keep having to change the tagline for this mission, but that’s a good problem to have.”