“Lucy is in the sky!” NASA made the announcement on its Twitter account this Saturday at 9:34 GMT (6:34 in Brazil).
The US space agency was talking about the launch of its Atlas V rocket aboard the Lucy spacecraft First spacecraft built to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
Lucy embarked on a 12-year journey to study eight different asteroids: one in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter and seven others located in a region called Troy. The goal is to get new perspectives on the formation of the Solar System 4.5 billion years behind the first.
NASA’s Lucy mission ship during take-off this Saturday (16) in Florida, USA. — Photo: NASA
The Trojan asteroids are physically different from each other, according to Hal Levison, the mission’s lead scientist. “For example, they have very different colors, some are grey, some are red,” he explained at a news conference on Friday (15). The differences indicate how far away from the Sun they must have formed before taking their current trajectory.
“What Lucy finds will give us important clues to the formation of our solar system,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division.
The Atlas rocket, from NASA, loads the Lucy spacecraft during its launch this Saturday (16). — Photo: NASA
The image below shows the trajectory taken by the Atlas V rocket during launch.
The image shows the trajectory taken by an Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft on board during this Saturday (16) launch. — Photo: NASA
The Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Base in Florida, United States.
The Atlas rocket carrying the spacecraft Lucy on board is launched from a space base in Florida. — Photo: NASA/United Launch Alliance
NASA’s Lucy mission spacecraft was launched this Saturday morning (16) from the space base in Florida, USA. — Photo: NASA
Around 7:40 p.m. (Brazil time), Lucy successfully separated from the rocket and is now traveling alone toward the asteroids. NASA scientists watching the launch of a control room in Florida celebrated the moment with thunderous applause.
“Lucy” and the Trojan Asteroid
NASA launches first spacecraft designed to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids
The investigation was named in honor of Lucy. Ancient fossil that helped understand the evolution of the human species.
According to NASA, scientific evidence indicates that the Troy asteroids are remnants of the material that formed the giant planets. Studying them may reveal previously unknown information about their formation and the evolution of our solar system, such as the fossil skeleton of Lucy that revolutionized science’s understanding of human evolution.
This vehicle will pass over an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter for the first time around 2025.
“It will still take many years to reach Troy’s first asteroid, but it is worth the wait and all the effort because of its enormous scientific value. They are like diamonds in the sky,” said Hal Levison.
Lucy is the first solar-powered spacecraft to go far away from the Sun. To do this, he is aboard two giant solar panels, each about 7.3 meters wide.
The cost of the mission is approximately US$981 million.