NASA’s spacecraft will explore the various asteroids that orbit the Sun in the same path as Jupiter.
Lucy Launch Summary
NASA’s next mission to explore asteroids for the earliest era of our solar system is ready for launch. The spacecraft named Lucy is expected to take off this week on a mission estimated to take 12 years. The spacecraft is considering a possible October 16 launch date and will travel to the outer solar system over the course of the 12-year project window. Once in the outer solar system, Lucy will explore more than seven ancient asteroids, known as the Trojan asteroids that surround the Sun.
Trojan asteroids orbit in the same path as Jupiter, the planet. By exploring them, Lucy will also be the first spacecraft to visit asteroids in this region. The spacecraft will help gather data to help scientists delve into the ancient history of the solar system, which in turn could help decipher more details about how the universe came to be.
NASA has described the Trojan asteroids as “time capsules since the birth of our solar system.” According to the space agency, the Trojan asteroids “orbit the Sun in two swarms, with one group in front of Jupiter on its way and the other behind it.” They have been named after characters in Greek mythology.
Speaking about the project, NASA scientist Tom Statler said in a statement: “With Lucy, we are going to eight never-before-seen asteroids in 12 years with a single spacecraft. This is a fantastic opportunity for discovery as we delve into the distant past of our solar system. ”
Nickname Amazing Finding
The mission itself takes its name from the fossilized human ancestor whose skeleton provided a unique insight into the evolution of humanity. The skeleton was nicknamed “Lucy” by its discoverers. Drawing a parallel, NASA believes that Lucy’s mission “will revolutionize our understanding of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system.”
Over the course of the 12 years, Lucy will explore a “record number of asteroids,” NASA says. “The spacecraft will fly alongside an asteroid in the solar system’s main belt and seven Trojan asteroids. Lucy’s path will circle back to Earth three times for the assistance of gravity, making her the first spacecraft to return to the vicinity of our planet from the outer solar system. “