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NASA does a first, shoots Lucy space probe to Jupiter; Earth origins on agenda

In a first of its kind mission, NASA space probe Lucy has been shot towards Jupiter and the agenda is to check out the Trojan asteroids. Lucy Space probe mission to Jupiter Trojan asteroids could help researchers in knowing more about the origins of the Earth. 
In a first of its kind mission, NASA space probe Lucy has been shot towards Jupiter and the agenda is to check out the Trojan asteroids. Lucy Space probe mission to Jupiter Trojan asteroids could help researchers in knowing more about the origins of the Earth.  (NASA)

  • In a first of its kind mission, NASA space probe Lucy has been shot towards Jupiter and the agenda is to check out the Trojan asteroids found in that regions.
  • Lucy space probe was named after a 3.2 million year old female fossil of a human ancestor.
  • The Lucy fossil got its name from a famous song by The Beatles called Lucy in the sky with diamonds 

NASA has been known to take up challenging tasks, but this one is really unique. In a first of its kind mission, NASA has shot off the Lucy space probe with the mission to study Trojan asteroids found near planet Jupiter. The mission is to study some asteroids that are remnants of the material that formed our solar system's outer planets. Even as it looks at the Trojan asteroids, the real mission of Lucy space probe is to find out the origins of the solar system and that in itself will provide clues as to the creation and existence of Earth in its present form. Not just the past, perhaps it will even provide clues as to the future of our planet or at least chalk out the trend it is moving on. Believed to be rich in carbon compounds, the asteroids may also provide new insights into the origin of organic materials and life on Earth, NASA said.

Earlier on Saturday, NASA said that the Lucy space probe, aboard the Atlas V rocket, lifted off on schedule from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

What is Lucy mission agenda?

The Lucy mission will last as long as 12 years and it will study asteroids. This is the first ever attempt to explore the Trojan asteroids. No other single science mission has been designed to visit as many different objects independently orbiting the sun in the history of space exploration, NASA said. Trojan asteroids are thousands of rock-like objects that orbit the sun. The curious part about these is the role of Jupiter - these asteroids are in 2 groups with one ahead of Jupiter and one behind it.

The largest known Trojan asteroids, named for the warriors of Greek mythology, are believed to measure as much as 225 kilometers (140 miles) in diameter.

Scientists hope Lucy's close-up fly-by of seven Trojans will yield new clues to how the solar system's planets came to be formed some 4.5 billion years ago and what shaped their present configuration.

"The Trojan asteroids are leftovers from the early days of our solar system, effectively the fossils of planet formation," said Harold Levison, principal mission investigator at the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

What is Lucy?

US paleoanthropologist Donald Carl Johanson discovered the fossil of a female hominin australopithecine known as "Lucy" in Ethiopia. The importance of Lucy fossil is that it is a 3.2 million-year old skeleton of a human ancestor. Johanson was the lead discoverer in the team.

Where did the Lucy name come from?

The name Lucy has its origins in a song. The song was by the iconic rock band The Beatles and was called Lucy in the sky with diamonds, which was released in 1967. Johanson and others named the skeleton Lucy because the team played this song repeatedly throughout the night to celebrate the finding of this critical fossil specimen.

To further honour Johanson, Lucy space probe will do a fly-by of an asteroid called DonaldJohanson too.

NASA says Lucy space probe will create history in one more way. Its spaceflight route will circle back to Earth as many as three times to gain gravitational assistance as it heads to Jupiter. Lucy will thereby become the first spacecraft ever to return to Earth's vicinity from the outer solar system.

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