The largest planet, Jupiter, has been studied by NASA for many decades. Juno and other robotic explorers have studied the Great Red Spot and its environment.
However, the Jupiter Trojan asteroids surrounding this planet have not been studied closely, and Lucy will be the bridge for NASA to new discoveries.
NASA Lucy Jupiter Mission
As of now, we have little to no data describing the characteristics of these Trojan rocks, which defined as a group of ancient boulders.
This Saturday, October 16, NASA will launch the Lucy spacecraft toward these asteroids as part of a great mission to explore our solar system's well-preserved history through these ancient materials.
Lucy will be the first spacecraft that will travel through the seven Trojan asteroids, and it's first stop will be the main belt asteroid between Mars and Jupiter before travelling to both the leading and trailing swarms.
NASA stated that, "no other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun," and that "Lucy will show us, for the first time, the diversity of the primordial bodies that built the planets"
Lucy project scientist, Tom Statler, said via the space agency: "We're going to eight never-before-seen asteroids in 12 years with a single spacecraft; this is a fantastic opportunity for discovery as we probe into our solar system's distant past."
NASA Lucy Launch
Lucy will launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket having the main mission to explore Trojan asteroids.
The live launch coverage will begin at 5 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT) on NASA Television, the NASA application, and NASA social media platforms.
Then, NASA's Lucy launch time is scheduled at 5:34 a.m. EDT (0934 GMT).
Everyone can register to virtually attend the launch to have access to selected launch resources, a behind-the-scenes look at Lucy, and the opportunity to earn a virtual guest launch passport stamp, according to NASA.
Furthermore, people are also encouraged to participate in the virtual NASA Social, #LucyMission, on Facebook.This will give people an opportunity to interact with NASA team members.
NASA Lucy Live Events
NASA organized several virtual public events, as well as science and engineering briefings before Lucy's launch; all briefings will be livestreamed on NASA Television and social media platforms. Public questions will be allowed at some briefings.
According to Space.com, the space agency held a Lucy prelaunch news conference with Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's science mission directorate; Hal Levison, Lucy principal investigator; Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center; John Elbon, chief operating officer; and Omar Baez, Lucy launch director.
NASA also held a Lucy rollout show on the NASA Television on Thursday, October 14.
Then on Friday, October 15, NASA will hold a Science Live with Carly Howett, assistant director at the Southwest Research Institute's department of space studies; Wil Santiago, deep space exploration engineer at Lockheed Martin Space; Brittine Young, mentor for the NASA Lucy L'SPACE Academy; and Wilbert Ruperto, ambassador for the NASA Lucy L'SPACE Academy.
Members of the public can send questions using #askNASA or posting a comment in the live video chat stream.
What Is Lucy's Mission?
Lucy has 4 main objectives in this mission: to help study the Trojan asteroids' surface geology, surface color and composition, interior and bulk properties, and the satellites and rings.
Surface Geology, which include the shape, crater size, crustal structure, and layering
Surface color and composition, which include the colors and tones of the rocks, mineral makeup, and regolith properties, such as loose soil composition
Interiors and bulk properties, which include masses, densities, powder blankets over craters, and other important data
Satellites and rings: some asteroids may have orbiting mini-asteroids and others may have Saturn-like rings composed of extremely tiny pebbles or ice substances.
The Launching Off
The preparation of Lucy's launching has been challenging and meticulously planned to avoid all the possible problems during its travel.
Lucy will be transferred to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Vehicle Integration Facility on October 16 to create compatibility with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Then, it will be able to leave Earth's atmosphere with the assistance of this rocket.
The spacecraft will next launch from Earth to begin a 12-year mission. It will travel around the solar system three times, utilizing Earth's gravity as leverage.
"Launching a spacecraft is almost like sending a child off to college," Levison stated. "You've done what you can for them to get them ready for that next big step on their own."
After Lucy Travel, What Will happen?
The future generations will have to choose between bringing Lucy back to Earth, recognizing it as an artifact, or they will let Jupiter, in due course, travel towards the sun or beyond our solar system.
There will be no problem with that because by then, the mission of Lucy will be finished, and the additional data needed to expand our knowledge and understanding of the universe will be in our hands.
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