NASA Launches New Mission To Explore Jupiter’s ‘Trojan’ Asteroids
By Alexa Heah, 18 Oct 2021
Image via NASA
During the weekend, NASA successfully launched its Lucy mission from an Atlas V rocket at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The project, which costs an astonishing US$981 million in total, aims to navigate through the eight asteroids—one known as the Main Belt asteroid, and seven trojans—orbiting near Jupiter.
The trip, however, will take some time. In fact, Lucy is only expected to reach the first asteroid sometime in 2025. It’s an exciting journey that space enthusiasts will no doubt keep an eye on, considering it’s the first time a spacecraft has gone to the asteroids.
Researchers hope the mission will give us better insight into the asteroids, which are thought to be remnants of a primordial material that could’ve formed our solar system’s outer planets.
According to Interesting Engineering, another first for Lucy is that it will be the first space mission heading to several different destinations at once, as each asteroid has its own independent orbit.
“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,” NASA said.
💫 Lucy’s got some exploring to do.— NASA (@NASA) October 16, 2021
At 5:34am ET (9:34 UTC) on Oct. 16, our #LucyMission lifted off aboard a @ULALaunch Atlas V rocket. Now begins a 12-year journey to visit more asteroids than any other mission: https://t.co/iRKKvRs28J pic.twitter.com/85xb8aG3u6
[via Interesting Engineering, cover image via NASA]
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