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NASA’s Lucy mission launched from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Saturday.

The first mission to Trojan asteroids, Lucy will travel approximately 4 billion miles and will be mounted on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.


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Lucy’s major mission is about 12 years long, during which she will visit eight asteroids – A Main Belt Asteroid and Seven Trojans – which is sharing an orbit with Jupiter at the planet’s Lagrange points as it revolves around the Sun over billions of years.

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Lagrange points There are places around a planet’s orbit where the gravitational pull of the planet and the Sun and the speed of the orbit meet to strike a balance.

Asteroids are thought to be And scientists say studying them will provide important clues about the formation of the Solar System, to be the remains of the original material that formed the outer planets.

No other space mission in history has launched to many different destinations in independent orbits around the Sun, NASA Note.

Lucy — traveling at an average cruising speed of 39,000 mph and 15,000 mph as it flies past each asteroid — will also be the first spacecraft to travel a little beyond the distance of Jupiter and the last to use Earth’s gravity assist. Will return to the vicinity. Which would send it back to its last Trojan encounters.

The scientists selected several targets for study and will use a range of instruments to collect visual, compositional and physical information.

Lucy, which is more than 51 feet wide with the two giant solar panels needed to power the spacecraft, has a high-gain antenna needed to communicate with Earth located on the body of the spacecraft.

NASA's Lucy mission will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids in the Solar System's main asteroid belt, one asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids flew by.  This illustration is of the seven targets of the LUCY mission: the binary asteroids Patroclus/Menoetius, Euribetes, Orus, Lucus, Polymele and the main-belt asteroid Donald Johansson.

on its body, Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer (L’TES) The thermal infrared spectrum will measure the surface temperatures of asteroids, the Lucy Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (L’Lori) high-resolution, panchromatic visible camera will provide detailed surface images and L’Ralph has an infrared imaging spectrometer that will reveal absorption lines. which serve as fingerprints for various silicates, ice and organics, as well as the L’Ralph Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) which will take color images of the Trojans to help determine their composition.

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Lucy will also be able to use its Terminal Tracking Cameras (T2CAM) to track asteroids 600 miles. inside of each goal.

In addition to spectrographs and robotic cameras, Lucy uses Doppler tracing to measure mass.

Also, Lucy will operate further away from the Sun than any previous solar-powered spacecraft.

At 7:09 a.m. EDT, NASA tweeted that the $981 Lucy mission had “successfully deployed its solar panels, and now its epic journey to the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter is officially underway.”

Although Lucy carries a big artificial diamond The mission, which will split beams of light into its far-infrared spectrometer instrument, is not named for the Beatles’ famous “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

Instead, Lucy was chosen in honor of a fossil human ancestor that was found in Ethiopia in 1974 and given the same name.

“Getting out here this morning is absolutely mind-blowing… to see what the creativity of the human mind can do,” Donald Johansson, the paleontologist who discovered the fossil, told NASA in an interview from the Lucy launch site.

At the end of the mission, Lucy will continue in a stable orbit, travel through near-Earth orbit and then into Trojan swarms.

“The team has carefully planned so that Lucy does not collide with Earth or contaminate a place where life could exist for more than 100,000 years,” NASA wrote on its website. “If no future humans collect Lucy as a historical artifact from the early days of solar system exploration, Lucy’s orbit will eventually become unstable, and Jupiter will most likely send spacecraft to the Sun or Will kick it out of the solar system.”