NASA’s asteroid Chaser Lucy is flying in the sky with diamonds

Cape Canaveral, Fla.

There are seven mysterious space rocks in the asteroid paradise that divide the orbit of Jupiter, which is believed to be the ancient remnant of the planet formation.

An Atlas V rocket explodes just before dawn, sending Lucy on a circular journey spanning nearly a billion billion miles (3. billion billion kilometers). Researchers were moved by the description of the successful launch – chief scientist Hal Levison said it was like watching the birth of a child. “Go Lucy!” He called.

Lucy is named after the 2.2 million-year-old skeletal remains of human ancestors found in Ethiopia almost half a century ago. The discovery is named after the 1967 Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, in which NASA persuaded the spacecraft to print a plaque with the band members’ songs and other words of brilliance. The spacecraft carried a disc made of lab-produced diamonds for one of its science instruments.

In a pre-arranged video for NASA, the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr pays tribute to his late colleague John Lennon, the credit for writing the song that inspired all of this.

“I’m so excited – Lucy is going back to the sky with the diamond. Johnny would love it, ”said Starr. “Anyway, if you meet anyone there, Lucy, give them peace and love from me.”

The paleontologist behind the discovery of the fossil Lucy, Donald Johansson, was interrupted by a goose watching Lucy fly – “I would never look at Jupiter the same way … absolutely mind-blowing.” He said he was amazed at “this intersection of our past, our present and our future.”

“The mission of a human ancestor who lived so long ago, a mission that promises to add valuable information about the structure of our solar system, is incredibly exciting,” said Johansson of Arizona State University.

As the name of the mission – the fossilized human ancestor, “Lucy”, whose skeleton provided unique insights into the evolution of humanity – Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of the origin of our planet and the formation of the solar system.

Lucy’s 98 981 million mission is to target Jupiter’s so-called Trojan groups: thousands – if not millions – of asteroids that share the vast orbits of gas giants around the Sun. Some Trojan asteroids are in its orbit before Jupiter, others follow it.

Despite their orbits, the Trojans are scattered far away from the planet and mostly away from each other. Levison of the Southwest Research Institute, the mission’s chief scientist, said the chances of Lucy becoming Lucy as soon as she reaches her goals are absolutely nil.

Lucy will cross Earth next October and get enough gravitational force in 2024 to make it into Jupiter’s orbit. On the way there, the spacecraft will zip past the asteroid Donald Johansson between Mars and Jupiter. The aptly named rock will serve as the 2025 warm-up law for science instruments.

Pulling energy from two giant circular solar wings, Lucy will chase five asteroids in the Trojan’s top pack in the late 2020s. The spacecraft will then zoom to Earth in 2030 for another gravity support. This will send Lucy back to the backward Trojan cluster, where it will surpass the final two targets in 2033 to record eight asteroids in a single mission. .

It’s a complex, circular path where NASA science mission chief Thomas Zurbuchen first nodded. “You’re kidding me. Is that possible?” He remembers asking.

Lucy will cover 600 miles (965 kilometers) from each target; The largest covers about 70 miles (113 kilometers).

“Who knows? I’m sure we’ll be surprised,” said Hal Weaver of Johns Hopkins University, who is in charge of Lucy’s black-and-white camera. “But what will the images reveal about these fossils from the solar system? We can hardly wait to see. “

NASA plans to launch another mission next month to test whether humans can change the orbit of the asteroid – if there is ever a killer rock on Earth.

The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science is assisted by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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