NASA’s Lucy mission to probe Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Sci and Tech
Context NASA is poised to send its first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids to glean new insights into the solar system’s formation 4.5 billion years ago.
- The Jupiter trojans, commonly called Trojan asteroids or simply Trojans, are a large group of asteroids that share the planet Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun.
- The probe, called Lucy after an ancient fossil that provided insights into the evolution of human species, will launch on October 16 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
- Mission: To investigate the group of rocky bodies circling the Sun in two swarms, one preceding Jupiter in its orbital path and the other trailing behind it.
- After receiving boosts from Earth’s gravity, Lucy will embark on a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids — one in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter and then seven Trojans.
- Trojans are present in a very small region of space and are very physically different from one another. The differences indicate how far away from the Sun they might have formed before assuming their present trajectory.
- Trojan asteroids number more than 7,000 in total.
- It will be the first solar-powered spaceship to venture this far from the Sun, and will observe more asteroids than any other spacecraft before it.