NASA Lucy Mission: First Spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

NASA is set to launch Lucy, the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids on October 16, 2021. Know details.

Updated: Sep 30, 2021 20:49 IST
NASA Lucy Mission, Source: NASA
NASA Lucy Mission, Source: NASA

NASA is set to launch Lucy, the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids on October 16, 2021. The Lucy spacecraft is scheduled to be launched on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 but the Lucy spacecraft will be the first expedition by NASA to study the Trojan asteroids that orbit the Sun in two swarms, one leading ahead of Jupiter and other trailing behind the planet.

NASA’s Lucy mission to study Jupiter’s asteroids

The Lucy spacecraft which is NASA’s first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids will be launched on October 16, 2021. The spacecraft will be launched on a 12-year mission to help scientists gain an up-close view of the Trojan asteroids. The study of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids will help scientists to understand how the Solar System and its planets were formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago and why did they end up in the current sequence.

What is the goal of NASA Lucy mission?

The Lucy spacecraft is designed to travel nearly 4 billion miles. The Lucy spacecraft and a remote-sensing instrument will study geology, physical properties, and surface composition of the Trojan asteroids. The first asteroid flyby of the Lucy spacecraft will happen in 2025. The seven other Trojan asteroids encounters are expected to happen between 2027 and 2033.

Naming of Lucy Mission - Background

The Lucy mission has been named after the discovered partial skeleton from a human ancestor that is believed to have lived more than 3 million years ago. The fossilized remains were named Lucy. Just as the fossil remains named Lucy offered insights into human evolution, the Lucy mission to Trojan asteroids is expected to help in understanding the planetary origins and the formation of the Solar System, including Earth, said NASA.

About Trojan asteroids

The Trojan asteroids have been named after characters in Greek mythology. They orbit the Sun in two swarms, one ahead of Jupiter and the other trailing behind it. These asteroids were formed in the aftermaths of the leftovers of the primordial material from which Jupiter and the other outer planets were formed.

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