NASA, the Lucy probe is leaving on an ambitious 12-year mission

NASA, the Lucy probe is leaving on an ambitious 12-year mission


The launch of the Lucy probe is expected in a time window that will begin on Saturday 16 October. After take-off, the spacecraft will make a 12-year journey to the outer solar system, where it will visit half a dozen ancient "Trojan" asteroids (this is the name of celestial bodies that share the same orbit of a major planet or other satellite. , but do not collide with it) that orbit in the same path as the planet Jupiter. This ambitious mission will include a number of firsts: Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit asteroids in this region and the first to fly over Earth from the outer solar system. Additionally, the mission will add new data as scientists seek to learn more about the ancient history of our universe.

“No other space mission in history has been launched to so many different destinations in independent orbits around ours. Sun, ”NASA said in a description of the mission. "Lucy will show us, for the first time, the diversity of the primordial bodies that built the planets." Lucy is named after a famous australopithecus skeleton that is approximately 3.2 million years old, the discovery of which has long been hailed as a keystone in understanding human evolution.

NASA drew inspiration from Lucy's skeleton, which for the agency represents the beginning of humans, in naming a mission that aims to teach us more about the beginnings of our solar system. "These asteroids are truly like diamonds in the sky in terms of scientific value for understanding how giant planets formed and the solar system evolved," said Harold Levison, Lucy's principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). in a 2017 NASA statement.

Lucy's twelve-year journey will take him to at least eight different asteroids, with three re-visits to Earth (two before heading to the outer solar system and one after) to pick up speed through gravitational pulls. One of the asteroids visited is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, while the other seven are Trojans. Specifically, four of the seven Trojans are paired, allowing Lucy to view two asteroids simultaneously on each of those particular visits.

There will be several tools on Lucy: a color imager to determine the composition; a long-range reconnaissance imager to collect high-resolution images of the surface of each asteroid; a thermal emission spectrometer to examine how Trojans retain heat; a terminal tracking camera to obtain wide-field images of the asteroids to learn more about their shapes; and a high-gain antenna to determine the masses of each of these small worlds.

Asteroids and comets represent the small objects left over since our solar system was formed, approximately 4.5 billion Years ago. Studying the composition, orbits and other dynamics of these little worlds tells cosmologists more about how our neighborhood was born.

Australian-built rover to head to moon in 2026 in joint mission with NASA

a close up of a rock: NASA said the deal with Australia broadens the coalition of countries that is supporting humanity © Shutterstock NASA said the deal with Australia broadens the coalition of countries that is supporting humanity's return to the moon under the Artemis program.

An Australian-made rover will explore the Moon as early as 2026 in the country's first foray into lunar exploration.

Australia has signed a deal with NASA to develop a small rover that will have the ability to pick up lunar rock and dust and bring it back to a moon lander operated by NASA.

The lunar soil, or regolith, is expected to contain oxygen in the form of oxide and -- using separate equipment -- NASA will aim to extract oxygen from the samples. 'This is a key step towards establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon, as well supporting future missions to Mars,' the Australian government said in a statement.

The agreement, which includes a contribution of 50 million Australian dollars ($37 million), is part of Australia's Moon to Mars initiative.

'This is lunar history for Australia. We're going to see Australian businesses, researchers, design and build a rover that's going to go to the moon and do some interesting science,' Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency, told Australia's 'Today' breakfast television show.

Palermo said Australia is 'at the cutting-edge of robotics technology and systems for remote operations, which are going to be central to setting up a sustainable presence on the Moon and eventually supporting human exploration of Mars.'

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the deal with Australia broadens the coalition of countries that is supporting humanity's return to the moon under the Artemis program.

'By working together with the Australian Space Agency and our partners around the world, NASA will uncover more discoveries and accomplish more research through the Artemis program,' Nelson said in a statement.

The goal of Artemis is to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 -- although that deadline may not be feasible because of problems with spacesuits, an August report by the NASA watchdog warned.

Artemis relies on partnerships, both international and commercial, to create a sustainable and lasting presence of humans on and around the moon, with the goal of eventually using lessons learned from Artemis to land the first people on Mars.

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