NASA prepares to launch Lucy mission to Jupiter asteroids
Wednesday – 22 Safar 1443 AH – 29 September 2021 AD
A storm on Jupiter (archive – AFP)
Washington: «Middle East Online»
The US space agency (NASA) is preparing to launch next month the 12-year “Lucy” mission, through which it aims to closely monitor for the first time asteroids located in the same orbit with Jupiter, in order to better understand how our solar system was formed, according to For Agence France-Presse.
Trojan asteroids orbit; The known number of them is about 7,000, around the sun in two groups; One precedes the buyer and the second follows him.
During its journey, the spacecraft will fly first by 2025 over an asteroid from the main asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter), and then over the following years over 7 asteroids from “Trojan”.
The lead researcher in this mission at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, USA, Hal Levision, explained during a press conference that these last asteroids “are very different from one another, even though they are located in a very narrow region of space,” and added: “On the for example; Their colors are completely different; Some are gray and some are red.”
Among the hypotheses is that it was formed at a location farther from Jupiter’s orbit before it was attracted to its location, and that these colors are a reflection of where they came from.
“Whatever discoveries the mission (Lucy) makes, it will give us necessary indications about the formation of our solar system,” said Laurie Gleese, director of the Planetary Sciences Division at NASA.
The spacecraft will approach the selected objects with a distance of only between 400 km and 950 km.
Thanks to 3 scientific instruments on board and a large antenna, researchers seek to study the geology and composition of these asteroids, in addition to their specific density, mass and size.
The Atlas 5 rocket is scheduled to launch from Florida on October 16.
The value of the mission, including the costs of operations, which will last 12 years, is estimated at $981 million.
The vehicle was built by Lockheed Martin and is a true “work of art,” according to Rich Lybe, the company’s director of the Lucy program.
The vehicle includes more than 3 kilometers of cables, in addition to large solar panels that, when placed side by side, are equivalent to the length of a 5-storey building.
This will be the first solar powered vehicle to reach this distance from the sun, and it will monitor asteroids more closely than any previous vehicle.
The mission was named “Lucy” after the fossilized ape fossil that was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and allowed to shed light on the evolution of mankind. NASA seeks to shed light on the evolution of the solar system.
The researchers who discovered this skeleton at the time were listening to the famous Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
NASA has chosen a logo for the new mission in the form of a diamond, which is inspired by that incident.
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