Go Lucy! NASA’s First Mission To The Trojan Asteroids Launched From Florida
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NASA’s Lucy mission is the first NASA’s mission to study the Trojan asteroids which shares Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. This is a 12-year mission visiting 8 asteroids to uncover the mystery of our solar system. “Lucy” is named after the fossil discovered in 1974 in Africa. The diagram illustrating Lucy’s orbital path is seen below:
Excerpt from wikipedia on the topic of Lucy mission, in italics, below:
Lucy is a NASA space probe that will complete a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids, visiting a main belt asteroid as well as seven Jupiter trojans, asteroids which share Jupiter‘s orbit around the Sun, orbiting either ahead of or behind the planet. All target encounters will be fly-by encounters. The Lucy spacecraft is the centerpiece of a US$981 million mission.
The mission is named after the Lucy hominin skeleton, because the study of Trojans could reveal the “fossils of planet formation”: materials that clumped together in the early history of the Solar System to form planets and other bodies. The Australopithecus itself was named after the 1967 Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds“, Lucy itself is also carrying a disc made of lab-grown diamonds for her L’TES instrument.
A historic liftoff lit up the sky over Florida early Saturday morning. NASA’s Lucy spacecraft launched on top of an Atlas V rocket, ready for its 12-year mission to visit the asteroids around Jupiter, in the video published on October 16, 2021, “NASA’s Lucy asteroid mission launches from Florida“, below:
Today, NASA launched a first-of-its-kind mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. The Trojan asteroids are two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are remnants of the primordial material that formed the solar system’s outer planets, in the video published on Oct. 16, 2021, “NASA launches first space probe, dubbed Lucy to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids | Oneindia“, below:
More about NASA’s Lucy Mission, The First Mission to the Trojan Asteroids, from NASA web site, in italics, below:
Time capsules from the birth of our Solar System more than 4 billion years ago, the swarms of Trojan asteroids associated with Jupiter are thought to be remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets. The Trojans orbit the Sun in two loose groups, with one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other trailing behind. Clustered around the two Lagrange points equidistant from the Sun and Jupiter, the Trojans are stabilized by the Sun and its largest planet in a gravitational balancing act. These primitive bodies hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system.
Lucy will be the first space mission to study the Trojans. The mission takes its name from the fossilized human ancestor (called “Lucy” by her discoverers) whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution. Likewise, the Lucy mission will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system.
Lucy will launch in October 2021 and, with boosts from Earth’s gravity, will complete a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids — a Main Belt asteroid and seven Trojans, four of which are members of “two-for-the-price-of-one” binary systems. Lucy’s complex path will take it to both clusters of Trojans and give us our first close-up view of all three major types of bodies in the swarms (so-called C-, P- and D-types).
The dark-red P- and D-type Trojans resemble those found in the Kuiper Belt of icy bodies that extends beyond the orbit of Neptune. The C-types are found mostly in the outer parts of the Main Belt of asteroids, between Mars and Jupiter. All of the Trojans are thought to be abundant in dark carbon compounds. Below an insulating blanket of dust, they are probably rich in water and other volatile substances.
No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun. Lucy will show us, for the first time, the diversity of the primordial bodies that built the planets.
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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