NASA’s Lucy is about to start out investigating Trojan asteroids

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A NASA mission will quickly be launched to research the Trojans, a less-studied group of asteroids within the outer photo voltaic system. The Lucy Mission, named after the well-known Australopithecus fossil that was key to understanding early human evolution, will begin later this month and will assist us educate ourselves about how the photo voltaic system was shaped.

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Centaur stage for NASA’s Lucy mission can be lifted by crane into the Vertical Integration Facility close to Area Launch Complicated 41 of the Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station in September 16, 2021 Florida upscale. NASA / Kim Shiflett

The spacecraft was delivered to Florida prepared for launch from Area Launch Complicated 41 at Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station on Saturday, October 16. Lucy can be launched from Pad 41 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket by way of the Earth’s ambiance, out of orbit and thru the photo voltaic system to the Trojan asteroids.

The Trojans are in Jupiter’s orbit, in two teams – one in entrance of the planet and one behind it. Astronomers consider these asteroids are remnants of a number of the materials that shaped the planets within the earliest days of the photo voltaic system.

“With Lucy, in 12 years we are going to attain eight never-before-seen asteroids with a single area probe,” mentioned Tom Statler, Lucy challenge scientist at NASA headquarters. “This can be a unbelievable alternative for discovery as we discover the distant previous of our photo voltaic system.”

An artistic concept from the Lucy Mission.A creative idea from the Lucy Mission. SwRI

“A variety of hands-on work has been carried out,” mentioned Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy challenge supervisor at NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This summer time has handed so rapidly; It is laborious to consider that we’re about to start out. “

Because the spacecraft prepares for launch, its gasoline tanks have been stuffed with a combination of liquid hydrazine and liquid oxygen that enables it to maneuver between asteroids. It additionally has its photo voltaic panels to cost its scientific devices from the solar.

“Beginning a spaceship is nearly like sending a child to school – you’ve got carried out all the things to arrange them for the subsequent large step,” mentioned Hal Levison, senior investigator for the Lucy Mission based mostly within the Southwest Analysis Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

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