Asteroid hunting Lucy looks back at Earth from space! NASA shares astounding photo
The amazing cameras on NASA’s asteroid hunting Lucy spacecraft have captured captivating images of Earth.
Whenever we mention the word Earth, the image that pops up in our mind is of a round blue planet hanging in space. However, NASA's Lucy spacecraft, designed to explore asteroids near Jupiter looked back at Earth and captured captivating images of our home planet and Moon. The color? All in grey. Informing about the same, NASA's Earth Observatory said, "A spacecraft designed to investigate ancient asteroids near Jupiter will reach those distant targets with a little help from Earth. NASA's Lucy spacecraft is using Earth's gravity to help propel it beyond Mars. In the process, its cameras have captured captivating images of our home planet."
The Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM) on Lucy acquired this image of Earth and the Moon on October 13, 2022, and it was regarded as the image of the day for January 1, 2023. At the time, the spacecraft was 890000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) from Earth—almost four times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. According to the information, the image was acquired during an instrument calibration sequence as Lucy approached Earth for the first of the mission's three gravity assists.
These slingshot maneuvers around Earth will give Lucy the energy it will need to reach the Trojan asteroids—a group of asteroids trapped in an orbit at the same distance from the Sun as Jupiter. The icy rocks are thought to be ancient relics from the early solar system, which formed 4.5 billion years ago. But these 'fossil' asteroids have never been studied up close.
The second image was acquired on October 15, 2022, when the spacecraft was 380000 miles (620,000 kilometers) from Earth. That is still greater than the distance between the Earth and the Moon, but close enough to see some familiar features. In this grayscale view, clouds (white) swirl above continents (light gray) and oceans (dark gray), Earth Observatory informed.
Lucy is named in recognition of the fossil skeleton's contribution to understanding human evolution. The spacecraft is expected to advance our knowledge about the origins of our solar system and the formation of its planets, including Earth.
On October 16, 2022, the spacecraft passed within 220 miles (350 kilometers) of Earth—closer than the orbit of the International Space Station. The close encounter with Earth put Lucy in a zone with satellites and debris. The Lucy team accounted for the hazard and had pre-prepared several collision avoiding maneuvers.
A second Earth-gravity assist in 2024 will propel Lucy through the solar system's main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and toward one of two swarms of Trojan asteroids that share an orbit with Jupiter. A third gravity assist in 2030 will send Lucy toward the second group of Trojan asteroids.
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