Lucy: Mission to the Trojan Asteroids

Lucy is a NASA house probe on a twelve-year journey to eight totally different asteroids, visiting a predominant belt asteroid in addition to seven Jupiter trojans.

This time-lapsed animation reveals the actions of the internal planets (Mercury, brown; Venus, white; Earth, blue; Mars, crimson), Jupiter (orange), and the 2 Trojan swarms (inexperienced) through the course of the Lucy mission. Supply: NASA

What are Trojan asteroids?

For any given Two physique system in house (each our bodies are having mass) orbiting one another, there exist 5 factors (known as Lagrange factors) of their orbital plain the place internet gravitational pull is zero as a consequence of these two our bodies. Any third physique if positioned on any of those factors will get zero gravitational pressure from different two our bodies, and it’ll stay there suspended freely except an exterior pressure is utilized on it.

Now in our case, we have now Solar and Jupiter system. And two of those Lagrange factors are on orbit of Jupiter. That’s the place you will see that these Trojan Asteroids. Different Lagrange factors are: one between Solar and Jupiter, one on far aspect of Jupiter and one on far aspect of Solar. Now since Jupiter is orbiting Solar, all these 5 Lagrange factors will even transfer, that’s why these Trojan asteroids don’t change their place relative to Jupiter.

Another Examples of Objects freely suspended in Lagrange level L2:

  1. China has suspended an orbiter on far aspect of moon, on Lagrange level L2 of Earth Moon System, to determine a communication with its rover on far aspect of Moon.
  2. NASA will place James Webb Telescope on far aspect of Earth, on Lagrange level L2 of Earth Solar system. To look at additional deep in house.
  3. Gegenschein is daylight scattered by interplanetary mud. Most of this mud is orbiting the Solar in in regards to the ecliptic airplane, with a doable focus of particles on the L2 Earth–Solar Lagrangian level.
Lagrange factors L4 and L5 are the place Trojan asteroids are discovered.

Right here we will see all 5 Lagrange factors. 5 and 4 is the place all Trojan Asteroids are suspended. At 2 is the place all objects from above three examples are.

Together with 7 Trojan asteroids, Lucy will even be visiting one predominant belt asteroid which occurs to be in it’s path of journey in direction of L4 Trojans.

Lucy mission trajectory. The primary go to, in 2025 and the final in 2033. Supply: NASA

Devices onboard Lucy and what is going to we study?

Density willpower – To find out density, we have to discover the mass of the asteroid. For that, as Lucy house probe will move by an asteroid it is going to expertise a slight lower in its velocity ~1/a hundredth of mile/hr slower. With calculating the change in flyby pace we will decide how huge an asteroid is.

L’Ralph, L’LORRI and L’TES devices on Lucy. Supply: NASA

Two devices – L’Ralph and L’LORRI – onboard Lucy are successors of these at the moment getting used on New Horizons house probe.


Panchromatic and coloration seen imager (0.4-0.85 μm) and infrared spectroscopic mapper (1-3.6 μm). L’Ralph relies on the Ralph instrument on New Horizons and was constructed at Goddard House Flight Middle. It is going to be used to measure silicates, ices, and organics on the floor. To know composition of Trojans and the way they’re associated to geology of Trojans.


Excessive-resolution seen imager. L’LORRI is derived from the LORRI instrument on New Horizons and was constructed on the Johns Hopkins College Utilized Physics Laboratory. It would present essentially the most detailed photographs of the floor of the Trojans.

L’LORRI has no transferring components, no filters and is of identical design as that of Hubble House Telescope. It’s able to learning surfaces of trojans in excessive decision.

Supply: NASA

What is going to we discover out on Trojan asteroids? Mountains, basins, pits, valleys? We don’t know and we’ll certainly be stunned!


Thermal infrared spectrometer (6-75 μm). L’TES is much like OTES on the OSIRIS-REx mission and was constructed at Arizona State College. It would reveal the thermal traits of the noticed Trojans, which will even inform the composition and construction of the fabric on the floor of the asteroids.

L’TES will use lengthy wave infrared gentle to see detailed mapping of temperatures of those Trojans. By learning the adjustments all through the day night time on Trojans in temperature, we will determine the fabric it’s manufactured from.

Temperature map of Bennu asteroid. Supply: NASA
Temperature mapping of the Mars. Supply: NASA
Lucy can be taking diamonds into house – Lucy beam splitter! Supply: NASA

The spacecraft can be adorned with a golden plaque containing its launch date, the positions of the planets on the launch date, the continents of Earth on the time of launch, its nominal trajectory, and twenty speeches, poems, and tune lyrics from individuals resembling Martin Luther King Jr., Carl Sagan, The Beatles, and extra.

Lucy Plaque

As a result of the spacecraft won’t depart the Photo voltaic System or be ditched right into a planetary physique, there’s a likelihood that future generations of humanity will be capable to recuperate it and with this mission “what was the foot of the walker turns into the trail” of the human lineage.


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