While preparing for the launch of Lucy spacecraft, NASA revealed its full milestone events for 2022 to 2033. NASA also invited space fans and enthusiasts to celebrate the Lucy mission by building their own #LucyTimeCapsule.
According to earlier reports, the Lucy spacecraft carries a plaque engraved with messages from Earth. The spacecraft is designed to endure thousands, if not millions, of years and might one day serve as a historical relic for Earth's descendants.
The plaque installed in the spacecraft has messages from prominent thinkers like Billy Collins (American Poet), Martin Luther King Jr. (American minister and civil rights activist), and Albert Einstein (German-born theoretical physicist). An image of the current solar system is also inscribed on the plaque as a point of reference for the future solar system, which could change shape in the future.
NASA Lucy Mission: The 12-Year Journey Towards Trojan Asteroids
The Lucy space mission is estimated to span 12 years. After launching in October 2021, Lucy would head towards the seven Trojan asteroids found in front and behind the planet Jupiter. Note that these are never-before-explored space territories.
Researchers are excited about this space mission because the Trojan asteroids targeted are billions of years old. Researchers theorize that these asteroids are remnants of planet formation, serving as natural and ancient time capsules for the early solar system.
According to NASA, the full schedules for Lucy mission milestones are as follows:
- Oct. 15, 2022: Lucy makes its first Earth flyby.
- Dec. 12, 2024: Lucy makes its second Earth flyby. Gravity assist would help the spacecraft redirect towards the Trojan asteroids.
- April 20, 2025: Lucy flies by the main belt asteroid (52246) Donaldjohanson.
- Aug. 12, 2027: Lucy has its first encounter with two Trojan asteroids: Eurybates (3548) and its satellite, Queta.
- Sept. 15, 2027: Lucy flies by the Trojan asteroid Polymele (15094).
- April 18, 2028: Lucy flies by the Trojan asteroid Leucus (11351).
- Nov. 11, 2028: Lucy flies by the Trojan asteroid Orus (21900) and then heads back toward Earth.
- Dec. 25, 2030: Lucy makes its third Earth flyby. Gravity assist would help the spacecraft redirect towards the Trojan asteroids trailing behind Jupiter.
- March 3, 2033: Lucy flies by the binary pair Patroclus and Menoetius.
- 2033 and beyond: Lucy continues to orbit the Sun, passing through the alternating Trojan swarms and Earth
NASA Invites Space Fans to Join the #LucyTimeCapsule
NASA recently encouraged fans and space enthusiasts to create their own Lucy Time Capsule.
What would you put into a 2021 time capsule? To follow along with the Lucy mission @NASA invites you to build your very own #LucyTimeCapsule. The spacecraft will journey for 12 years, observing one main belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids. >>https://t.co/UFgkyG2SD2— NASA Marshall (@NASA_Marshall) October 4, 2021
The mechanics are pretty simple. Fans would create their own time capsule with a shoebox, tennis ball canister or freezer bag. Fans should put inside objects, words or ideas that could serve as memories to look back upon. Fans who participate can post their photo, drawing or video on social media with the hashtag #LucyTimeCapsule.
Unique or interesting posts would be retweeted or shared on NASA's social media accounts. Lucy Mission tweeted a perfect example of the online trend.
Over 12 years #LucyMission will travel to 7 Trojan asteroids - time capsules from the formation of our solar system. Create and share your own #LucyTimeCapsule to remind yourself of where you have been and how far you'll have gone in the next 12 years. https://t.co/BSWDxPebbn pic.twitter.com/zLrYz0g0dF— Lucy Mission (@LucyMission) October 4, 2021