NASA’s upcoming mission to explore asteroids is about to begin to learn about the early days of our solar system. A spacecraft named Lucy is expected to take off this week on a mission that will take 12 years. The spacecraft is looking at a possible launch date of October 16 and will travel to the outer solar system during the 12-year project window. Once in the outer solar system, Lucy will be looking for seven ancient asteroids, called Trojan asteroids orbiting the Sun.
Trojan asteroids orbit Jupiter in the same way. By exploring them, Lucy will also be the first spacecraft to visit asteroids in the region. The spacecraft will help scientists gain in-depth research into the ancient history of the solar system, which could help unravel more details about how the universe was formed.
NASA has described the Trojan asteroid as a “time capsule from the birth of our solar system.” According to the space agency, the Trojan asteroid “rotates the sun in two phases, one group ahead of Jupiter, the other behind it.” They are named after characters in Greek mythology.
Speaking about the project, NASA scientist Tom Statler said in a statement: “With Lucy, we will be going to eight asteroids never seen in 12 years with the same spacecraft. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the distant past of our solar system. ”
The mission itself takes its name from fossil human ancestors whose skeletons provided unique insights into the evolution of humanity. Her researchers called the skeleton “Lucy”. In parallel, NASA believes that Lucy’s goal is to “revolutionize our knowledge of the origin of the planets and the formation of the solar system.”
Over a period of 12 years, Lucy will discover a “record number of asteroids,” NASA says. The spacecraft will be launched by one asteroid in the main belt of the solar system and seven Trojan asteroids. Lucy’s orbit will return to Earth three times to aid gravity, making it the first spacecraft to return to its planet’s orbit from the outer solar system. ”
You can also be a part of the historical projection by watching online through NASA TV. Currently the liftoff is scheduled for October 16 at 2:34 PT (3:04 IST).