NASA’s Lucy Mission- Key Facts

American Space Agency, NASA, is set to send its first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.

Key Points

  • Spacecraft will be launched from “Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida” on October 16, 2021.
  • This spacecraft would obtain new insights into the formation of solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
  • The spacecraft has been named as Lucy. It was named after an ancient fossil which provided insights into the evolution of human species.

Objective of the mission

Mission Lucy will be launched with the objective of investigating the group of rocky bodies that are circling the Sun in two swarms- one preceding Jupiter and the other trailing behind it.

About the mission

Mission Lucy will go for a 12-year journey after receiving boosts from Earth’s gravity. 12-year journey will be completed across eight different asteroids including one in Main Belt between Mars & Jupiter and seven Trojans. Spacecraft will fly by its target objects within 400 kilometres of their surfaces. It will use onboard instruments and large antenna to investigate the geology of target objects. It will be the first solar-powered spacecraft at a distance of 400 kms. Total cost of the mission is $981 million.

What are Trojans?

Trojans are small celestial body or asteroids, sharing the orbit of larger one. They remain in a stable orbit, nearly 60° ahead or behind the main body. They can share the orbits of planets or large moons. Trojans are a type of co-orbital object. In Trojans, a star and a planet orbit around a common barycentre. Barycentre is close to the centre of the star as it is much more massive as compared to the orbiting planet. Most of the known trojans in solar system share the orbit of Jupiter. They are in a very small region of space but are physically different from one another. As of now, about 7000 trojans are known.

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