NASA launches Lucy, a 12-year mission to Jupiter asteroids

The purpose of the mission is to better understand the composition of our solar system.

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NASA is ready to launch Lucy next month. The mission, which is set to begin on October 16 and last for 12 years, will go for the first time to observe asteroids in the same orbit as Jupiter. During its journey, the spacecraft will first fly over an asteroid in the main asteroid belt around 2025 (between Mars and Jupiter), and then over the following years seven Trojan asteroids.

these, “Although they are located in a very narrow area, they are very different from each other”Explained Tuesday, September 28 During a press conference (link in english) Hal Levison, principal investigator for this mission at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado (US). “For example, they have very different colors, some gray, some red.” One theory is that it formed outside Jupiter’s orbit before it was attracted there, and that these colors reflect its source. “Whatever Lucy discovers, it will give us key clues about how our solar system formed.”said NASA Planetary Science Division Director Laurie Glaze.

The spaceship includes more than three kilometers of cable and especially massive solar panels, which are laid end-to-end as high as a five-story building. The craft will be the first solar-powered craft to venture this far from the sun, and will spot more asteroids than any other spacecraft before it. On board, three scientific instruments as well as a large antenna will allow researchers to precisely study the geology and composition of the asteroids as well as their density, mass and size. Total cost of the mission, including 12 years of operations: $981 million.

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