NASA’s pioneering asteroid mission
October 16, 2021 - Nasa is gearing up to launch the Lucy mission on Saturday for a voyage that could revolutionise our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system.
Lucy aims to sweep past seven of the countless Trojan asteroids that precede and trail Jupiter in the giant gas planet’s path around the sun.
Trapped in place by the gravitational forces of Jupiter and the sun, the Trojans are believed to be the cosmic leftovers from when the outer planets were forming.
Three flybys of Earth will be needed as gravity slingshots in order for Lucy to reach both of Jupiter’s Trojan swarms by the time the mission is set to end in 2033.
“The Lucy fossil really transformed our understanding of human evolution, and that’s what we want to do is transform our understanding of solar system evolution by looking at all these different objects,” said Southwest Research Institute’s Cathy Olkin, the deputy principal scientist who proposed the spacecraft's name.