(RepublicanNews.org) – Space continues to spike human curiosity. Not only do people want to learn more about space and the way planets and other celestial bodies form, but the challenges faced in space exploration bring a crowd of its own.
Every discovery has the potential to change how people see the universe. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a trailblazer in space exploration, and it continues that path.
On October 16, an Atlas V rocket will launch from the Florida Cape Canaveral Space Force Station carrying a space probe with it. The name NASA gave the probe is Lucy, and its mission has the potential to provide insight into how the solar system formed.
Lucy will embark on a 12-year mission and give a close-up view of the Trojan asteroids. The space rocks orbit with the solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter, with one group orbiting ahead and one group orbiting behind the massive planet.
Potential for Change
Lucy will encounter never-before-seen asteroids, leaving plenty of room for amazing discoveries. Lucy’s Trojan asteroids targets are leftover material from before the outer planets formed and may give insight into how the gaseous giants formed. That’s not all Lucy has the potential to unlock, though; the probe may be able to determine why the planets formed, aligned and configured as we know them today.
Dubbing the Mission “Lucy”
How did the mission gain its name? NASA scientists reasoned they were trying to find the solar system’s origins, much as paleoanthropologists looked for the origins of the human species. Those Earth scientists discovered the remains of a human ancestor from 3 million years ago, whom they named “Lucy.” Their space counterparts commemorated the discovery by dubbing the upcoming mission “Lucy.” NASA officials mentioned much like the discovery of the partial skeleton, the Lucy probe has a chance to transform the knowledge humans possess on how the solar system formed.
The Long Road Ahead
On the 12-year journey, the Lucy probe will travel almost 4 billion miles. In 2025, the probe should have its first asteroid encounter as it passes through the group of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter, known as the asteroid belt. From there, Lucy will closely encounter the Trojan asteroids seven times between 2027 and 2033.
The probe will accomplish all of this in one trip. On October 16, Lucy launches into space. Indeed NASA and space enthusiasts around the globe are waiting anxiously to see what secrets Lucy may uncover.
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