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Lucy probe launching to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids this month

1 Oct 2021, 10:00 UTC
Lucy probe launching to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids this month
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Lucy sits between the two Atlas V payload fairing halves in the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, just a short drive from Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider
Lucy, the first spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, has completed eight weeks of preparation ahead of its planned Oct. 16 launch.
Named Lucy after the human ancestor fossil found in Ethiopia in 1974, the spacecraft, which will launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket, will embark on a 12-year mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two asteroid groups that orbit with Jupiter — one ahead of the planet and the other behind it.
These asteroids are “fossils” that have remained unchanged since the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. Scientists hope studying them will shed light on both the formation and current arrangement of the solar system’s planets.
Lucy on its payload mount in the Astrotech payload processing facility. Credit: Theresa Cross / Spaceflight Insider
On its way to the Jupiter Trojans, Lucy will fly by Eurybates, an asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter, and its small moon Queta. Eurybates is ...

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