NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft to Explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids

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admin November 9, 2021
Updated 2021/11/09 at 2:40 PM

Next week, NASA plans to launch its first spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids in order to learn more about the solar system’s 4.5 billion-year-old creation. Lucy will go on a 12-year voyage to eight distinct asteroids, one in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and then the seven Trojans, after getting boosts from Earth’s gravity.

‘Lucy,’ a 3.2 million-year-old progenitor of a hominid species, inspired the mission’s name. It will be the first solar-powered spacecraft to go this far from the Sun, and it will observe more asteroids than any previous probe. The mission will cost $981 million in total.

The ship was created by Lockheed Martin and has nearly two miles of cable and solar panels that would be taller than a five-story structure if laid end-to-end.

The spacecraft will launch on an Atlas V 401 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on October 16th, beginning a 21-day launch phase. The spaceship will pass by Earth twice to take use of the planet’s gravitational field as it makes its way to the asteroids.

The mission’s goal is to figure out what makes up the many asteroids that make up the Trojan asteroid swarms, as well as their mass and density. The project will also search for and examine any satellites or rings that may be orbiting the Trojan asteroids. Trojan asteroids are thought to have originated from the same material that resulted in the creation of planets roughly 4 billion years ago when the solar system was founded.

Asteroids are split into three groups, with Trojans being the second. The existence of trojan asteroids near Jupiter, Neptune, and Mars has already been reported by NASA. Jupiter asteroids are found in “swarms” that lead and follow the planet Jupiter as it orbits the Sun. By August 2027, ‘Lucy’ will have reached the first swarm of these asteroids that orbit Jupiter.

 

Source: The Hindu

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