NASA launched from Cape Canaveral Lucy a $981 million mission to explore an almost entirely unknown family of asteroids, which will tell us a lot about the origins of the solar system.
After launch, with the Atlas 5 rocket, Lucy will have to embark on a 12-year journey into space, which will take her to visit a main belt asteroid, between Mars and Jupiter, and then to seven mysterious ‘Trojan’ asteroids that orbit close to Jupiter – a real record for a single space probe
The expedition takes its name from the fossil of the most famous human ancestor, Lucy, whose skeleton provided valuable information about the evolution of our species. Similarly, the NASA probe will attempt to revolutionize our knowledge about the formation of the planets of the solar system by first visiting the so-called Trojan asteroids: they are ‘cosmic stones’ that share an orbit with Jupiter and are grouped into two main groups in correspondence between two equilibrium points (called Lagrangian). ) where the gravitational force of Jupiter and the gravitational force of the Sun balance each other, canceling each other out.
To date, more than 7,000 Trojan asteroids have been identified, and they are all completely different from each other: some are more reddish, others are more gray, probably due to their different chemical composition. Lucy will try to analyze it with her instruments on board and will also try to take pictures of its surface: it is not easy, considering that they will fly over asteroids at a speed of 5-9 kilometers per second.
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