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Current Affairs

Lucy mission

Date: 12 October 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

 To explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, NASA is set to launch the ‘Lucy’ mission. It is expected to help scientists understand its origins and evolution,

 

Background

The Trojan asteroids are believed to be the remnants of the early solar system. The mission is estimated to be over 12 years long.

 

Details

  • During the course of the mission, the spacecraft will visit eight asteroids to deepen the understanding of our “young solar system”.

  • The mission is named after our 3.2 million-year-old ancestor known as ‘Lucy’, which belonged to a species of hominins (which include humans and their ancestors).

  • The spacecraft will first visit an asteroid that lies in the main belt that can be found between Mars and Jupiter. 

  • The asteroid has been named after ‘Donald Johnson’, the paleoanthropologist who discovered the fossilised remains of ‘Lucy’.

 

Launch course

  • The mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on board an Atlas V 401 rocket.

  • The spacecraft will make use of Earth’s gravitational field by undertaking two fly-by missions for its journey to the asteroids.

 

Mission aim

  • The constituents of the Trojan asteroid are made up of same material that led to the formation of planets nearly 4 billion years ago when the solar system was formed.

  • The mission will also try to understand the composition of the different asteroids that are a part of the Trojan asteroid swarms.

  • It also aims to study the satellites and rings around the asteroids to find out the mass and density of these bodies.

 

Trojan asteroids

  • These are group of asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet. Their name comes from Greek mythology.

  • It is assumed that planets such as Jupiter, Neptune and Mars have Trojans. Earth is also found to hold a Trojan asteroid.

  • The Trojan asteroid group around the Jupiter is referred to as “swarms”. They follow Jupiter on its path around the Sun.

 

Other categories of asteroids

  • One category of asteroids is found in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

  • Another category is named Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which has orbits that pass close to the Earth. Some of these cross the path of the Earth and are known as Earth-crossers.