The trip will visit eight asteroids, the largest number of bodies ever visited by a probe, and will cost $981 million.
Departed from Cape Canaveral (Florida, United States) this Saturday. mission lucy, from NASA, aims to study so-called Trojan asteroids on a journey that will take at least 12 years.
Duty It was named Lucy after the Australopithecus fossil found in Ethiopia. In 1974, he helped clarify the origin of humanity. NASA is now trying to clarify the evolution of the solar system.
Trip plans to visit eight asteroidss is the maximum number of bodies visited by a probe, and It will cost $981 million.
But what are Trojan asteroids?
In simple terms, asteroids that follow the orbit of a planet, most of them are located after Jupiter in the solar system, the largest mass (other than the sun) in our space neighborhood.
In 1772, mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange theorized about these objects, however, it was not observed for the first time until 1904. It is estimated that there are one million asteroids more than a kilometer in diameter following the gas giant’s orbit.
About 7,000 Trojan asteroids are known. They are “very different from each other”Hal Levison, the mission’s principal investigator, explained, “Some are gray, others are red.”
Lucy will fly first around 2025 an asteroid of the main belt formerly located between Mars and Jupiter visit seven trojan asteroids, the last two in 2033.
Its widest diameter is about 95 kilometers. The spacecraft will approach targets from a distance of 400 to 950 kilometers., at about 24,000 km / h, depending on its size.
will ship a diamond to measure infrared lightwill allow to determine the temperature at the surface of asteroids.
“By comparing these measurements at night and during the day, we can determine whether the surface is made of blocks of rock or fine dust and sand,” said Phil Christensen, head of the scientific instrument L’TES. Diamond. Rock cools more slowly than sand at night.