Thursday , March 30 2023

NASA launches Lucy mission to understand the formation of the solar system – The Economic Newspaper


The Lucy mission left Cape Canaveral, Florida, this Saturday, October 16, for the Troy asteroids in the orbit of Jupiter, a twelve-year journey to better understand the formation of the solar system, NASA announced.

The Lucy mission, launched by the Atlas V rocket at 5:34 a.m. local time, 9:34 a.m. Lisbon, will observe eight asteroids thought to be the “inaccessible remnants of planetary formation”, targeting geology, study composition and density, mass and precise volume of those space objects, according to the French agency France-Presse.

That NASA mission, the North American Space Agency, will have a total cost, which is expected to last twelve years, of 981 million dollars (845.6 million euros).

“Each of the asteroids must share a part of the history of our solar system, of our history,” writes AFP, quoting the director of the scientific division of the American space agency, Thomas Zurbuchen.

The approximately seven thousand known Trojan asteroids orbit the sun in two groups, one for Jupiter, the other for Jupiter.

Lucy will first study an asteroid in the main asteroid space between Mars and Jupiter, around 2025, and then begin the study of the seven asteroids from Troy, until 2033.

The AFP says that the largest asteroid under study is about 95 kilometers in diameter and that the spacecraft will approach the asteroids at a distance of “only 400 to 950 kilometers, depending on its size, and at a speed of about 24 thousand kilometers per hour ”.

The mission’s lead investigator, Hal Levison, quoted AFP as saying that “one of the surprising things about the Troy asteroids is that they are very different from each other, especially their color: some are gray, some are red, and the color should indicate where they came from “.

The name of the mission, the AFP explains, is a tribute to the australopithecine fossil, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, that “reflects light on human evolution”, which NASA’s Lucy mission is expected to reflect light on the evolution of the solar system.

The fossil was named Lucy because researchers listened to the Beatles song “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” when they found it.

However, the name fits in with that NASA mission, because “there is indeed a diamond on board” in one of the scientific instruments, the L’TES, aboard the spacecraft.

L’TES will take infrared light measurements, making it possible to determine the temperature on the surface of the asteroids.

“Comparing these measurements at night and during the day, we can determine whether the surface consists of blocks of rock or fine dust and sand,” according to the person in charge of L’TES, Phil Christensen, quoted by the French bureau.

NASA plans to launch another mission in November to test whether humans could change the orbit of an asteroid if Earth were on the path of one of those “killer rocks.”

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