NASA hunts asteroid, makes amazing progress with Lucy Mission | Tech News

NASA hunts asteroid, makes amazing progress with Lucy Mission

Lucy mission, to hunt down Asteroid Dinkinesh, has entered a critical phase, NASA has revealed. It is employing precision maneuvers and enduring a planned communications blackout behind the Sun right now.

| Updated on: Nov 27 2023, 21:19 IST
Chandrayaan-4 mission: Why the mission is vital for ISRO
Asteroid Dinkinesh
1/5 Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency are collaborating for the next lunar mission called Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) which has been dubbed as the Chandrayaan-4 mission. (JAXA)
Asteroid Dinkinesh
2/5 Various theories and speculations have been made about the Moon's south pole having water, however, no one has ever discovered any traces of that and JAXA and ISRO will try to unveil the same. The main goal of the mission is to find water on the lunar surface. (JAXA)
Asteroid Dinkinesh
3/5 As of now the mission is under development and the space agencies are trying to find the right landing sight for the lunar lander. Finding the landing sight is integral for a safe landing as well as optimal communication conditions. (JAXA)
Asteroid Dinkinesh
4/5 The Chandrayaan-4 discovery of water on the Moon will be a game-changer for space exploration. With detailed data on this resource, we could establish a permanent human life on the Moon and use it to fuel our journey to more distant celestial bodies. (JAXA)
Asteroid Dinkinesh
5/5 The Chandrayaan-4 mission is timelined to be launched in the year 2025, however, no date has been confirmed. JAXA is now working on developing the rover and ISRO is working on developing the lunar lander which will take the rover to the moon.  (ISRO)
Asteroid Dinkinesh
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Over the past month, the Lucy Mission spacecraft team has observed that Asteroid Dinkinesh becoming brighter. (representative image) (Pixabay )

NASA's Lucy mission has advanced further towards Asteroid Dinkinesh using precise maneuvers and now faces a communication blackout behind the Sun. Principal investigator Hal Levison leads the team's efforts, with mission management by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and spacecraft construction by Lockheed Martin Space.

Over the past month, the Lucy Mission spacecraft team has observed that Asteroid Dinkinesh becoming brighter as the spacecraft approaches, along with a consistent brightness variation indicating a 52.7-hour rotation period.

Since Lucy's initial observation of the asteroid on September 3, NASA has utilized high-resolution images from the L'LORRI camera to refine the spacecraft's and asteroid's relative positions, aiding in precision navigation toward the encounter.

On September 29, a minor trajectory correction maneuver was executed, adjusting the spacecraft's speed by just 6 cm/s, or roughly 0.1 mph. This adjustment is anticipated to guide Lucy to pass within 265 miles (425 km) of the asteroid.

The team is prepared to make further trajectory adjustments in late October, if necessary, to ensure the mission's success.

On October 6, the spacecraft moved behind the Sun from Earth's perspective, leading to a planned period of communication blackout. Nevertheless, the spacecraft continued to capture images of the asteroid.

After the solar conjunction period concludes in mid-October, communication with Earth will resume, and the images taken during the blackout will be transmitted back to Earth.

The principal investigator for the Lucy mission is Hal Levison, working from the Southwest Research Institute's Boulder, Colorado branch, which is under the umbrella of the headquarters in San Antonio, Texas.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, located in Greenbelt, Maryland, is responsible for managing the overall mission, systems engineering, and ensuring safety and mission success.

Lockheed Martin Space, based in Littleton, Colorado, constructed the Lucy spacecraft.

Lucy represents the 13th mission within NASA's Discovery Program, with the program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and overseen by the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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First Published Date: 27 Nov, 21:19 IST