NASA is set 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.
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- About Lucy Mission
About Lucy Mission
- It is named after an ancient fossil 3.2 million-year-old ancestor who belonged to a species of hominins.
- It is a 12-year journey of eight different asteroids including one in the Main Belt between Mars & Jupiter and seven Trojans.
- It is NASA’s first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids.
- Lucy will run on solar power out to 850 million km away from the Sun.
- This makes it the farthest-flung solar-powered spacecraft ever, according to NASA.
Aim & Objective:
- To get insights into the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
- Investigating the group of rocky bodies that are circling the Sun in two swarms- one preceding Jupiter and the other trailing behind it.
Donald Johnson Asteroid:
- The spacecraft’s first encounter will be with an asteroid that lies in the main belt that can be found between Mars and Jupiter.
- This asteroid is named ‘Donald Johnson’ after the paleoanthropologist who discovered the fossilised remains of “Lucy”.
Rocky objects revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets.
Classification based on their orbits:
- Main asteroid belt b/w Mars and Jupiter.
- Trojan asteroids orbit a larger planet in two special places, known as Lagrange points, where the gravitational pull of the sun and the planet are balanced.
- NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune and Mars trojans. In 2011, they reported an Earth trojan as well.
- Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), circle closer to Earth than the sun.
- Lagrange points are the locations in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other.
- Any small mass placed at that location will remains at constant distances relative to the large masses.
- There are five such points in Sun-Earth system and they are denoted as L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5.
-Souce: Indian Express