Lucy will take black-and-white and color images, and use a diamond beam splitter to shine far-infrared light at the asteroids to measure their temperature and map their surface. You’ll also collect other measurements as they go through. This data can help scientists understand how planets form.
Sarah Dodson Robinson, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware, says Lucy could offer a specific timeline not only when Planets were originally formed, but where.
“If you can determine when Trojan asteroids formed, you have some information about when Jupiter formed, and you can start asking questions like ‘Where did Jupiter go in the solar system?'” she says. “Because he wasn’t always where he is now. I have moved. “
To determine the age of the asteroids, the spacecraft will look for surface craters that may not be larger than a football field.
“[The Trojans] “We haven’t had as much impact and fracture as some of the other asteroids closest to us,” Dodson-Robinson says. “We’ll probably look at some of these asteroids as if they were shortly after they formed.”
On her 4 billion-mile journey, Lucy will receive three gravity aids from Earth, which will involve using the planet’s gravitational force to alter the spacecraft’s course without exhausting its resources. choral AdamLucy, deputy chief of the navigation team for the Lucy mission, says each thrust will increase the spacecraft’s speed from 200 mph to more than 11,000 mph.
“Without this gravitational assistance, it would take five times as much fuel — or three metric tons — to reach Lucy’s target, which would render the mission futile,” Adam said during an engineering briefing also held on October 14.
Lucy’s mission is due to end in 2033, but some NASA officials are already feeling confident that the spacecraft will last longer. “You’ll leave a good amount of fuel on board,” Adam said. “After the final encounter with binary asteroids, as long as the spacecraft is in good health, we plan to propose to NASA for an extended mission and explore more Trojans.”