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Lucy Mission

30th January, 2023 Science and Technology

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  • NASA announced that it is adding a new target for the Lucy mission.

Lucy Mission:

  • Lucyis a NASA space probe on a twelve-year journey to ten different asteroids.
  • Lucy will become the first solar-powered spacecraft to venture so far from the Sun, and will observe more asteroids than any probe before it — eight in all. It includes Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. All target encounters will be flyby

Jupiter Trojan Asteroids

The Jupiter Trojan asteroids, thought to number well over 7,000, are leftover raw materials from the formation of our solar system’s giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Scientists believe they hold vital clues about the composition and physical conditions in the protoplanetary disk from which all the Sun’s planets, including Earth, formed. They are broadly grouped into two swarms — the leading swarm is one-sixth a lap ahead of Jupiter while the trailing swarm is one-sixth behind.

  • Lucy was launched from Cape Canaveral SLC-41 in 2021.
  • Lucy’s first encounter will be in 2025 with asteroid Donaldjohanson in the Main Belt, between Mars and Jupiter. 
  • Between 2027 and 2033, it will encounter seven Trojan asteroids — five in the swarm that leads Jupiter, and two in the swarm that trails the gas giant.
  • Lucy will fly by its target objects within 250 miles (400 kilometres) of their surfaces, and use its onboard instruments and large antenna to investigate their geology, including composition, mass, density and volume.
  • Lucy the probe is carrying a diamond beam splitter into the sky — the Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer, which detects far infrared radiation, to map asteroid surface temperatures.
  • By measuring the temperature at different times of day, the team can deduce physical properties such as how much dust, sand or rock is present.

The name- Lucy

  • Lucy the fossil was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and helped shed light on human evolution.
  • The mission is named after the Lucy hominin fossils because the study of the trojans could reveal the "fossils of planet formation": materials that clumped together in the early history of the Solar Systemto form planets and other bodies.
  • In a nutshell, the space mission’s name was chosen with the hope that it will shed light on the solar system’s evolution.