Nasa launches Lucy Spacecraft

American Space Agency, NASA, launched the first-of-its kind mission on October 16, 2021 to study the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.

Highlights

  • Trojan asteroids are two large clusters of space rocks, which are believed to be remnants of primordial material forming the outer planets of the solar system.
  • The space probe is called as Lucy.
  • It has been packed inside a special cargo capsule, which was lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
  • Lucy spacecraft was carried by an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance (UAL), which is a joint venture of Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Lucy Mission

Lucy mission is a 12-year expedition which will study a record number of asteroids. It will be first mission to explore the Trojans, which are rocky objects orbiting the sun in two swarms that is, ahead of the path of Jupiter and one behind it. Spacecraft will journey to eight different asteroids. It will also visit main belt asteroid and seven Jupiter trojans. This spacecraft is the centrepiece of US$981 million mission.

Background

Lucy Mission was chosen, along with the Psyche mission, on January 4, 2017 as Discovery Program missions 13 and 14 respectively by NASA. Lucy Mission has been named after Lucy hominin skeleton, because study of Trojans will reveal the “fossils of planet formation”.

About Trojan asteroid

Jupiter trojans are also called as trojan asteroids. These are a large group of asteroids which share the orbit of planet Jupiter around the Sun. Each trojan revolves around one of Jupiter’s stable Lagrange points, either L4 or L5. They are distributed in two elongated and curved regions around these Lagrangian points.

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