NASA says it gives top priority to solving these mysteries, which is why Lucy was launched on October 6, 2021.
The spacecraft is named after the fossil of early human ancestor Lucy because a study of Trojan asteroids can reveal “fossil remains of planetary formation,” material that lumped together in the early solar system’s history to form planets and other celestial bodies.
Lucy’s team originally planned to fly with one main belt asteroid and six Trojan asteroids.
The “main belt” is the so-called main belt or asteroid belt, which is the region between Mars and Jupiter where the greatest concentration of asteroids or asteroids orbits the sun. Trojan asteroids are asteroids that move in a stable orbit around one of the so-called L4 and L5 Lagrangian points of a planet’s orbit.
In this case, they are Jupiter’s Trojans, a group of hitherto unexplored asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. The first group, the Greeks, are ahead of Jupiter in orbit, and the second, the Trojans, follow Jupiter.
So Lucy was originally supposed to visit seven asteroids, but in January 2021, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, the team discovered that one of the Trojan asteroids, Eurybates, had a small satellite.
Then it’s eight asteroids and now with this newly discovered satellite, Lucy is on her way to visit nine asteroids during her 12-year journey.
“Lucy’s famous phrase was originally, 12, seven asteroids, one spacecraft,” said Lucy scientist Tom Statler at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We have to change the slogan for this mission over and over again, but that’s a good problem.”
This article is based on a press release from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
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