Nasa launches Misso Lucy, dedicated to studying 'companion' asteroids over Jpiter

The NASA launched this Saturday (16) the Lucy probe, its first robotic mission dedicated to exploring the Trojan asteroids, which accompany the giant Jpiter on its orbits around carry out Sol.

The launch started at zero time, t 6h16 (over Braslia), at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The spacecraft was taken into space by an Atlas Sixth is v rocket, starting a journey that should last at least 12 years. It is not easy to reach the surroundings of the Jovian orbit, and even more difficult to reach a sufficiently moderate speed for the spacecraft to be able to individually explore several asteroids, one after the other. a significantly Earth itself, in 2022, 2022 and 2030. The second of them after, Lucy passes, in 2022, by an object performs asteroid belt that goes by the peculiar name Donaldjohanson. the performer name paleoanthropologist who discovered the fossil of the mission name, the australopithecus over 3.5 million years ago that helped reconstruct the history of a human evolution (by studying trojan asteroids, friend hopes to reveal the secrets of a formation photo voltaic system, having a comparable impact on its fossil homonym).

After passing through the asteroid Donaldjohanson, the probe reaches the first group on the trojans to be studied, on a 2 five points over Lagrange that exist in each gravitational system on two bodies.

These regions, shaped by the combined gravity over Jpiter and perform Sol, serve as a sort of normal parking lot for spacecraft and other small objects such as asteroids. Along the long mission, Lucy visits points L4 and L5. The L4 is at Jpiter’s orbit, but 16 degrees ahead of it. There she visits belt objects: Eurybates and its satellite Queta, Polymele, Leucus and Orus. All this between 2027 and 2027.

After a visit to L4, the probe returns to fly over an Earth and then heads again to the orbit over Jpiter, but this time to L5, where to visit at least two objects: the pair Patroclus and Menoetius, in

.

In other words , there will be a total of 7 Trojan asteroids visited, perform a meeting with Donaljohanson simply in the asteroid belt beyond.

To successfully operate in a region as far as the Sun System, the probe has two solar panels superlight and huge, each a circle over 7 meters in diameter forming.

The mission was selected in 2017 as part of the perform program Breakthrough , in which the NASA selects low-cost missions proposed by scientists with well-defined objectives.

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