The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has successfully launched a spacecraft named Lucy to unlock the secrets of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. The spacecraft, which will observe asteroids for 12 years, will also try to find clues about what led to the creation of the solar system. This is an uncrewed mission. The spacecraft was launched aboard an Atlas V rocket. The launch took place form the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft has now reached on a roundabout trek where it will continue to span for about 4 billion miles or 6.3 billion kilometers. Researchers got emotional after the successful launch of the spacecraft. Lead scientists Hal Levison said that the launch was nothing less than the birth of a child.
The spacecraft, which has been named after the 3.2 million-year-old ancient fossil of a pre-human ancestor, is the first solar-powered spacecraft that will venture so far from the Sun. Also, it is the first space probe that will be observing so many asteroids, more than any such probe before. There are several other things that make the space probe unique. For example, Lucy will three Earth flybys. This will be necessary for gravity assists. It will make Lucy the first spacecraft to make a comeback to earth’s vicinity from the outer solar system. This event is likely to happen in October 2022.
Lucy will explore eight asteroids out of which seven are among swarms of asteroids sharing Jupiter’s orbit. These asteroids are basically debris that was formed while the solar system was created billions of years ago. Lucy has already sent its first signal to earth. It is now traveling in a trajectory orbiting around the sun with a speed of roughly 67,000 miles per hour. The total cost of the mission is worth USD 981 million. NASA is also planning another mission next month. It is also expected to launch a spacecraft that will wallop an asteroid’s moon. This will be basically a practice to prepare in the event of any deadly rock heading to Earth.