The Lucy spacecraft visits the Trojan asteroids

October 10, 2021 – 8:48 am hour

The front and back of Jupiter

For the first time, a NASA probe sets off in search of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. These are celestial bodies that move around the sun in the same orbit as the gas giant. It is the first space mission to investigate unusual asteroids. On the seventh day of Space Week, we take a look at NASA’s Lucy mission.

Eight asteroids will be examined

Lucy’s mission is set to last twelve years.

© dpa, -, vco

The Lucy mission rocket is scheduled to launch on Saturday, October 16th. NASA scientists have devoted twelve years to the mission and hope to gain unique insights into the formation of the planets and the solar system. NASA scientist Hal Levison said Jupiter’s Trojans are “the fossils that make up planets.”

The special thing about asteroids is that they follow the giant planet in the same orbit, or rather accelerate forward. One swarm rushes in front of the buyer, and another follows him. Trojan asteroids have also been found on other planets. The Lucy mission is designed to study seven of these asteroids over the next twelve years. Asteroids also have names: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius. An eighth asteroid will also be approached in the main belt of Jupiter.

Three-week time window for missile launch

The first asteroid is scheduled to fly near the planet in 2025, and the second asteroid is scheduled to be studied between 2027 and 2033. “With Lucy, we will fly one spacecraft to eight previously unseen asteroids in twelve years.”NASA scientist Tom Statler explains the mission. “This gives us a great opportunity to explore while looking into the deep past of our solar system.”

In order to achieve sufficient speed during the flight, Lucy’s trajectory would return to Earth three times. In a swing maneuver, the 14-meter space probe is supposed to use gravity to pick up speed. The delay in this mission would be fatal, as there will be a three-week time window from October 16 when the spacecraft can launch without losing asteroids in its complex path.

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The Greek epic of the asteroids with the same name

Jupiter-Trojan-Astroidin, Planet, Lucy-Mission

The seven Trojan asteroids that Lucy is supposed to visit are named after heroes from the Greek epic The Battle of Troy.

© NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

The unique path simply cannot be repeated if Lucy misses the launch window. “Finding a path that would actually allow us to visit all these creatures was a real challenge”said Hal Levison, the mission’s principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute. “This path will not be possible in the near future.”

By the way, a German astronomer discovered the asteroids Jupiter Trojan. On February 22, 1906, he discovered that celestial bodies move in unusual orbits. They are named after the heroes of the Greek epic about the Battle of Troy.

International Space Week

To draw more attention to space and science about the universe, the United Nations (UN) has International Space Week Bring them to life. It starts on October 4th and runs until October 10th. The launch date was chosen in honor of the first man-made satellite “Sputnik 1”. The satellite was launched on October 4, 1957. The date of completion also depends on an event, because on this day in 1967 the Space Treaty was signed. The document regulates the behavior of states in space. Many educational actions or events take place during Space Week. This year’s International Space Week celebrates women in space.

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