Her name is Lucy. Referring to the famous Australopithecus over 3 million years old, its skeleton was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 which provided a wealth of information about humans predating the birth of the genus. to turn down. By taking Lucy’s name for its new mission, NASA hopes that the probe that will take off on Saturday, October 16 from the Kennedy Space Center (Florida) will also bring a slew of new knowledge about other, more distant, origins in the Solar System.
They are called Hector, Achilles, Priam, Patroclus… They are named after characters The Iliad These are the so-called “Trojan” asteroids. Numbered in the thousands, they are divided into two groups located at two very specific places in Jupiter’s orbit, the Lagrangian points L4 and L5. The laws of gravity mean that in these areas, representing the vertices of the two equilateral triangles, the base of which will be the part of the Sun and Jupiter, the attractions of our star and giant planet are balanced. So they are havens of stability – or traps if one sees things more bleak. L4 precedes Jupiter by 60 degrees in its revolution around the sun while L5 follows by 60 degrees.
Several space missions have already targeted asteroids, but none of them have ever visited Trojans, so Lucy will be a great first. After takeoff, this 1.5-ton machine (including 771 kg of fuel) will begin a real journey into the solar system. First of all, and twice – in 2022 and 2024 – it will have an appointment with Earth to take advantage of the gravitational increase from our planet, which will send it to L4. During this trip, on April 20, 2025, you will meet a representative of the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter, a cobblestone named Donald Johansson … in honor of the American paleontologist who co-managed the mission that discovered Australopithecus Lucy. The meeting with this asteroid will be an opportunity to perform a rehearsal for the probe, which carries three instruments: a high-resolution camera and a spectrometer to determine the chemical composition of the intersecting stars.
listen too Mars, an unreal epic?
Lucy will reach L4 in 2027, and on August 12 of that year it will fly over the first Trojan asteroid, Eurybate, about sixty kilometers in diameter and having two characteristics: the first belongs to the family of Trojans resulting from a catastrophic collision, and the second is to be equipped with a satellite A little boy named Queta. From September 2027 to November 2028, Lucy will visit three other asteroids, Polymyli, Leucos, and Uros. Next, the probe, with its two huge solar panels over 7 meters in diameter, will go to L5.
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