© Reuters NASA’s Lucy spacecraft capsule, on board the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket for a mission to study the outer solar system’s Trojan asteroids, stands on pad-41 to prepare for launch at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral
(Reuters) – NASA is about to launch its first type of mission called Lucy, which will study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid, two large clusters of space rocks that scientists believe are the original material that made up the outer planets of the solar system.
The special probe, packed inside a special cargo capsule, was carried from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5 a.m. EDT (0934 GMT), by an Atlas (NYSE 🙂 V rocket from the United Launch Alliance. UAL), a joint venture of Boeing (NYSE 🙂 Co Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE :).
If all goes according to plan, Lucy will be launched into space in a 12-year mission to study a record number of asteroids. It will explore the first Trojans, with thousands of rocky objects orbiting the Sun in two galaxies – a large gas planet Jupiter ahead and one behind it.
The largest Trojan asteroid, named for warriors in Greek mythology, is believed to have measured up to 225 kilometers (140 miles) in diameter.
Scientists hope that Lucy’s flying near seven Trojans will provide new clues as to how the planets in the solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago and what shape their current configuration took.
Carbon compounds are believed to be rich, asteroids can even provide new insights into the origin of organic matter and life on Earth, NASA said.
“Trojan asteroids have survived from the earliest days of our solar system, effectively the fossils of planet formation,” said Harold Levison, chief mission investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
NASA says no other single science mission in the history of space exploration has been designed to orbit the sun independently.
In addition to the Trojans, Lucy will fly with an asteroid in the solar system’s main asteroid belt, called Donald Johansson, in honor of the main discoverer of the fossil human ancestor known as Lucy, from which the NASA mission takes its name. Discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, the Lucy fossil was named after the Beatles hit “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.
The Lucy asteroid probe will make the history of spacecraft differently. Following a three-way orbit around the Earth for gravitational support, NASA said, it would be the first spacecraft to return to Earth from the outer solar system.
The batteries will be recharged using rocket thrusters and two circular solar arrays at each width of a school bus to conduct exercises in space, which will power devices in many small central parts of the spacecraft.
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