NASA says solving those mysteries is a high priority, which is why Lucy launched on October 6, 2021.
The spacecraft was named after the early hominid Lucy’s fossil because by studying the Trojan asteroids it could find “fossil remains” of the formation of planets and other celestial bodies in the early history of the solar system.
The Lucy team originally planned to fly by one main belt asteroid and six Trojan asteroids.
The region between Mars and Jupiter, called the main ring or asteroid belt, is where most of the asteroids or asteroids orbit the Sun. Trojan asteroids are asteroids in stable orbits around the L4 and L5 points of a planet’s orbit, called the Lagrange points.
In this case, they are Jupiter Trojans, a population of as yet unexplored asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit. One faction, the Greeks, preceded Jupiter in orbit, and the second, the Trojans, followed Jupiter.
So Lucy was originally supposed to visit seven asteroids, but in January 2021, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, the team discovered that Eurybates, one of the Trojan asteroids, has a small moon.
So then it became eight asteroids, and now with this newly discovered satellite, Lucy is on her way to visit nine asteroids in her 12-year journey.
“Lucy’s catchphrase was ’12 years, seven asteroids, one spacecraft,'” said Lucy scientist Tom Statler at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We’ve had to change the slogan for this mission over and over again, but it’s a good problem to have.”
This article is based on a press release from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
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