NASA Lucy Launched on Atlas V Rocket– Asteroid Mission to “Fossils” of Planet Formation

Lucy Spacecraft Launch

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A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen in this 2 minute and 30 2nd direct exposure photo as it introduces from Space Launch Complex 41, Saturday, October 16, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station inFlorida Lucy will be the very first spacecraft to research study Jupiter’s TrojanAsteroids Like the objective’s name– the fossilized human forefather, “Lucy,” whose skeleton supplied distinct insight into mankind’s advancement– Lucy will transform our understanding of planetary origins and the development of the planetary system. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA‘s Lucy objective, the firm’s very first to Jupiter‘s Trojan asteroids, gone for 5: 34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Over the next 12 years, Lucy will zip one main-belt asteroid and 7 Trojan asteroids, making it the firm’s very first single spacecraft objective in history to check out numerous various asteroids. Lucy will examine these “fossils” of planetary development up close throughout its journey.

“Lucy embodies NASA’s enduring quest to push out into the cosmos for the sake of exploration and science, to better understand the universe and our place within it,” stated NASA Administrator BillNelson “I can’t wait to see what mysteries the mission uncovers!”

Lucy Spacecraft at Trojan Asteroid

Artist’s idea of Lucy spacecraft at Trojan asteroid. Credit: NASA

About an hour after launch, Lucy separated from the 2nd phase of the ULA Atlas V 401 rocket. Its 2 huge solar ranges, each almost 24 feet (7.3 meters) broad, effectively unfurled about 30 minutes later on and started charging the spacecraft’s batteries to power its subsystems.

“Today’s launch marks a genuine full-circle moment for me as Lucy was the first mission I approved in 2017, just a few months after joining NASA,” stated Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the firm’s Headquarters inWashington “A true mission of discovery, Lucy is rich with opportunity to learn more about these mysterious Trojan asteroids and better understand the formation and evolution of the early solar system.”

Lucy sent its very first signal to Earth from its own antenna to NASA’s Deep Space Network at 6: 40 a.m. The spacecraft is now taking a trip at approximately 67,000 miles per hour (108,000 kph) on a trajectory that will orbit the Sun and bring it back towards Earth in October 2022 for a gravity help.

Named for the fossilized skeleton of among our earliest recognized hominin forefathers, the Lucy objective will enable researchers to check out 2 swarms of Trojan asteroids that share an orbit around the Sun withJupiter Scientific proof suggests that Trojan asteroids are residues of the product that formed huge worlds. Studying them can expose formerly unidentified details about their development and our planetary system’s advancement in the exact same method the fossilized skeleton of Lucy changed our understanding of human advancement.

“We started working on the Lucy mission concept early in 2014, so this launch has been long in the making,” stated Hal Levison, Lucy primary detective, based out of the Boulder, Colorado, branch of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), which is headquartered in SanAntonio “It will still be several years before we get to the first Trojan asteroid, but these objects are worth the wait and all the effort because of their immense scientific value. They are like diamonds in the sky.”

Lucy’s Trojan locations are caught near Jupiter’s Lagrange points– gravitationally steady places in area related to a world’s orbit where smaller sized masses can be caught. One swarm of Trojans leads the gas giant world, and another lags it. The asteroids in Jupiter’s Trojan swarms are as far from Jupiter as they are from the Sun.

The spacecraft’s very first Earth gravity help in 2022 will speed up and direct Lucy’s trajectory beyond the orbit of Mars The spacecraft will then swing back towards Earth for another gravity help in 2024, which will move Lucy towards the Donaldjohanson asteroid– situated within the planetary system’s primary asteroid belt– in 2025.

Lucy will then journey towards its very first Trojan asteroid encounter in the swarm ahead of Jupiter for a 2027 arrival. After finishing its very first 4 targeted flybys, the spacecraft will take a trip back to Earth for a 3rd gravity increase in 2031, which will catapult it to the tracking swarm of Trojans for a 2033 encounter.

“Today we celebrate this incredible milestone and look forward to the new discoveries that Lucy will uncover,” stated Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy job supervisor at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

NASA Goddard supplies general objective management, systems engineering, plus security and objective guarantee. Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado, constructed the spacecraft. Lucy is the 13 th objective in NASA’s DiscoveryProgram NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, handles the Discovery Program for the firm.

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