NASA launches “Lucy” mission to study ‘fossil’ evidence for planet formation for the first time

The NASA has launched the Lucy mission with the aim of studying first the asteroid Trojans s of Jupiter and learn more about the formation of planets .

NASA’s Lucy mission was launched today at 5:00 am on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at the United States Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

For about 12 years, Lucy will fly alongside a main belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids . This event represents the first mission by an agency spacecraft to explore so many different asteroids.

Lucy will be tasked with closely observing these planet-forming “fossils” during their journey. ” Lucy embodies NASA’s enduring quest to get out into the cosmos for the sake of exploration and science, to better understand the universe and our place within it,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

Formation of planets

The Lucy mission was named for the fossilized skeleton of one of our oldest known hominid ancestors and will allow scientists to explore two swarms of Trojan asteroids that share an orbit around the Sun with Jupiter .

Previous studies indicate that these Trojan asteroids are remnants of the material that formed giant planets. Investigating them could reveal essential information to learn more about the formation of our solar system .

“We started working on the Lucy mission concept in early 2014, so this launch has taken a long time to complete,” said Hal Levison, Lucy’s principal investigator. “It will still be several years before we reach the first Trojan asteroid, but these objects are worth the wait and all the effort due to their immense scientific value. They are like diamonds in the sky, “Levison added.