NASA to Launch First Ever Spacecraft to Study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids
NASA’s newest asteroid mission, a spacecraft targeting space rocks that orbit ahead of and behind Jupiter, is ready to begin its journey. Lucy is the agency’s first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids, and NASA’s preparing to pack it into a capsule for launch on Saturday, Oct. 16.
This unique group of asteroids circles the sun in two swarms, with one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other trailing behind it. These ancient asteroids are virtually untouched since the birth of our solar system, and like fossils on earth, hold important clues to the past.
This isn’t NASA’s first mission to study asteroids up close, but that doesn’t make the anticipation any less palpable.
Lucy has three instruments, L’Ralph, L’Lorri, and L’Tes. These instruments will allow for NASA to take both visible and infrared images in order to determine the composition of materials on the surfaces of the asteroids.
Lucy will travel nearly 4 billion miles moving at about 400,000 miles per hour over 12 years. One of the ways people can become involved is by following @NASASolarSystem on social media and look for the #LucyMission.
The launch can be viewed live at Space.com courtesy of NASA, and or on NASA TV with coverage starting at 5:34 AM Eastern Time.