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NASA to launch spacecraft Lucy to study asteroids

By HT School,

Lucy will be the first space mission to analyse the Trojan asteroids.

Lucy along with another mission Psyche was approved in January 2017 as part of NASA’s planetary missions.

On October 16th 2021, NASA is scheduled to launch a spacecraft named Lucy to study unique asteroids called Trojans on a 12-year long journey. This new mission can throw light on the origin of the solar system. Lucy will study eight different asteroids, one main belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids. The name Lucy is derived from the fossil human ancestor, the finding of which opened new domains of study for human evolution. Lucy is made with huge solar panels that will be able to measure 14 metres from the tip of its surface to the outer orbit of Jupiter. It will be supported by few smaller spacecrafts and will carry out spectroscopy and will take high resolution images. After the formation of the solar system and the planets from the space particles, asteroids were formed from the left behind particles. Most asteroids are found travelling in between Mars and Jupiter and are rocky substances and are called the Main Belt. However, apart from this, asteroids are also found near other planets, some of which are known as Trojans or “outer solar system” asteroids. Two flybys of earth will slingshot (use earth’s gravity to increase the speed) the spacecraft through the asteroid belt in 2022 and 2024 towards Jupiter’s L4 region. In April 2025, Lucy will analyse the main asteroid followed by the Trojan asteroids in 2027. By 2030, Lucy will retract to earth for gravity-assistance using flybys. After this Lucy will direct itself towards his final mission, i.e., orbiting Jupiter’s L5 region for its last Trojan encounter sometime in 2033.