On 30 July, an Air Drive C-17 cargo airplane touched down on a runway at NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart in Florida. A large transport container was rolled off the craft. The valuable cargo inside, revealed in an Astrotech cleanroom, was examined, and cleared by inspectors.
The Lucy spacecraft had arrived safely on the area middle, readying for its upcoming historic mission. This automobile, designed by the Southwest Analysis Institute, would be the first to go to the Trojan asteroids which accompany Jupiter on its orbit across the Solar.
If the whole lot goes in line with plan, an Atlas V 401 rocket will elevate the Lucy spacecraft into area, someday between 16 October and eight November.
Lucy, Lucy, Lucy…
Lucy (the spacecraft) was named in honor of Lucy, an early hominid present in Ethiopia in 1974. Lucy (the early hominid) was, in flip, named after the Beatles tune, Lucy within the Sky with Diamonds.
Simply as Lucy (the early hominid) offered researchers glimpses into the event of early people, researchers hope for comparable insights into the historical past of our personal photo voltaic system.
“Over its twelve-year major mission, Lucy will discover a record-breaking variety of asteroids, flying by one predominant belt asteroid and 7 Trojan asteroids. Lucy additionally incorporates three Earth-gravity assists to achieve the Trojan swarms and achieve these focused encounters,” NASA explains.
The Trojan asteroids of Jupiter are present in two teams, orbiting simply in entrance of, and behind, the King of the Planets. Astronomers conclude these tag-along asteroids are composed of a number of the earliest materials within the photo voltaic programs. Learning these cosmic third-wheels might reveal secrets and techniques of the early Photo voltaic System.
“The spacecraft will encounter the primary of its eight targets, a predominant belt asteroid, in 2025. Lucy will attain the primary of seven Trojan asteroids in 2027 and fly by the ultimate binary pair in 2033. Lucy incorporates three Earth-gravity assists in an epic flight to those wonderful, record-breaking encounters,” stated Dr. Cathy Olkin, Lucy’s deputy principal investigator.
The 46-foot-wide Lucy spacecraft is powered by a pair of huge photo voltaic panels, practically seven meters (24 toes) throughout. These behemoth collectors will enable Lucy to function on solar energy whereas on the orbit of Jupiter — a job which has by no means earlier than been achieved.
“The spacecraft is starting its last spherical of testing and pre-launch checks, which embody software program, instrument, powered operate, propulsion propellent load and telecommunication system exams in addition to spacecraft self-tests,” SwRI reviews.
The Lucy mission guarantees a wealth of information for astronomers searching for to know the character of our photo voltaic system.
This text was initially revealed on The Cosmic Companion by James Maynard, the founder and writer of The Cosmic Companion. He’s a New England native turned desert rat in Tucson, the place he lives along with his beautiful spouse, Nicole, and Max the Cat. You possibly can learn the unique article right here.