Powered by fuel and batteries that can be recharged via solar cells, the probe is supposed to fly close to seven so-called Jupiter Trojans: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Minoetius – all named after them. Heroes from the ancient myth of Homer’s “Iliad”.
About 90 minutes after liftoff, “Lucy” revealed its seven-meter solar sails, with which the spaceship’s batteries were recharged. Currently, Lucy is traveling on a path around the Sun at nearly 108,000 kilometers per hour in order to use the gravity of celestial bodies on its way to Jupiter.
Jupiter’s Trojans are asteroids revolving around the sun in the same orbit as Jupiter – a swarm rushes in front of it, one of them follows. They are considered “fossils of planet formation,” which is why NASA hopes the mission will provide new insights into the formation of planets and our solar system.
In addition, “Lucy” will also fly close to an asteroid in the so-called main belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and also as the first probe in the history of space travel – to return three times to the vicinity of Earth and get a boost from its gravity to get its flight. The first asteroid launch near it is scheduled for 2025, and the other asteroid is scheduled to be launched between 2027 and 2033.
The name of the probe is taken from the Beatles song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. It is said to have sprung from a cassette recorder when researchers discovered parts of a pre-human female skeleton in the Ethiopian Afar Triangle in 1974. The discovery demonstrated for the first time that the ancestors of today’s humans could walk upright about three million years ago.
The fossil – and now NASA’s probe – was called “Lucy”. According to NASA, the reason is simple: “Just as the ‘Lucy’ fossil has provided unique insights into human development, ‘Lucy’s mission’ promises to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary formation and the solar system.”
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