February 1, 2023

NASA’s Lucy asteroid mission will explore mysteries of the early solar system

“Related: Lucy mission to explore 7 Trojan asteroids discussed by NASANASAs $981 million Lucy objective, which is set up to launch on Saturday (Oct. 16) at 5:34 a.m. EDT (0934 GMT), is a bold expedition that will make six thoroughly managed flybys: one in the main asteroid belt, the rest among Jupiters Trojans.”Thats a model that recent asteroid objectives like Japans Hayabusa2 and NASAs OSIRIS-REx, followed; each spacecraft invested months studying its near-Earth asteroid prior to ultimately snagging a sample to provide to scientists.But Lucy cant stay at any one space rock without breaking the bank, because orbiting an asteroid requires much more fuel than flying past one.”That was where we started and the rest was luck, generally,” Levison said.The luck starts with Lucys extremely first flyby, in April 2025 of a main belt asteroid now dubbed Donaldjohanson in honor of the anthropologist who discovered the fossil that the Lucy objective is named for, a hominin who lived in what is now Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago.The flyby is a bonus– the asteroid will be near the course that Lucy had to take a trip anyhow on its journey out to the Trojans– but the object is still intriguing.

Spacecraft have visited most pockets of the solar system by now, however a brand-new area is about to come under the robotic examination: the 2 clumps of asteroids that flank magnificent Jupiter in its orbit.Although researchers have actually spotted thousands of so-called Trojan asteroids in these 2 swarms, no objective has ever seen one up close.”Related: Lucy objective to check out 7 Trojan asteroids explained by NASANASAs $981 million Lucy objective, which is scheduled to launch on Saturday (Oct. 16) at 5:34 a.m. EDT (0934 GMT), is a daring expedition that will make six thoroughly managed flybys: one in the main asteroid belt, the rest amongst Jupiters Trojans.”Thats a model that recent asteroid missions like Japans Hayabusa2 and NASAs OSIRIS-REx, followed; each spacecraft invested months studying its near-Earth asteroid before eventually snagging a sample to deliver to scientists.But Lucy cant stay at any one space rock without breaking the bank, given that orbiting an asteroid requires much more fuel than flying previous one.”That was where we began and the rest was luck, essentially,” Levison said.The luck begins with Lucys really first flyby, in April 2025 of a main belt asteroid now dubbed Donaldjohanson in honor of the anthropologist who discovered the fossil that the Lucy objective is named for, a hominin who lived in what is now Ethiopia 3.2 million years ago.The flyby is a bonus offer– the asteroid will be near the path that Lucy had to travel anyway on its journey out to the Trojans– however the item is still appealing. Its one member of a clump of asteroids that are the fragments of a much larger space rock that was smashed to bits, a type of asteroid that scientists have not seen before.

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