The Lucy space probe has become the first NASA mission to travel to Trojan asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit, and will be dedicated to deciphering the workings of the solar system for 12 years, the space agency said when announcing its launch from Florida.
Lucy took off at 6:30 a.m., Argentina time, from Cape Canaveral, propelled by an Atlas V rocket.
The mission will cost about $981 million and will have the goal of becoming the first solar-powered spacecraft to travel far from the sun.
Its goal will be to observe eight asteroids, something no other spacecraft has done so far, and cannot be done with telescopes from Earth.
Each of these asteroids should “present a piece of the history of our solar system, our history,” Thomas Zurbuchen, director of the science division at the US Space Agency, said during a press conference.
Agence France-Presse reported that Lucy will first fly over a major asteroid in its ocean between Mars and Jupiter around 2025, before visiting seven Trojan asteroids, the last two being in 2033.
The largest asteroid is about 95 kilometers wide.
distance and speed
The watch will be at a distance of 400-950 kilometers, depending on its size, and will travel about 24 thousand kilometers per hour.
“Lucy exemplifies NASA’s ongoing quest to delve deeper into the universe in the name of exploration and science to better understand the universe and our place in it,” said Bill Nelson, president of the US Space Agency, in a brief statement. .
Trojan asteroids, of which about 7,000 are known, orbit the Sun in two groups, one in the foreground and the other behind Jupiter.
“One of the amazing things about the Trojan asteroids is that they are very different from each other, especially their color: some are gray, some are red,” said Hal Levison, the mission’s principal investigator.
For power generation, the ship will have two solar panels each over seven meters in diameter.
The expedition was named Lucy in reference to the Australopithecus fossil discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, which helped explain the origin of humanity. NASA is now seeking to explain the evolution of the solar system.
The researchers who found this skeleton were listening to the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” at the time. As a gesture, the official NASA mission logo was painted in the shape of a diamond.
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