Lucy mission: Where are Trojan Asteroids located?

The Solar System was formed with different particles in space. Asteroids are the particles that were left over during the formation of the planets. Our scientists believe that exploring these asteroids will help us discover more about the origin of our Solar System. To research and explore these asteroids, the scientists of NASA are going to launch Lucy Mission by October 2021.

Today we will explore something new in this article about Lusy mission: Where are Trojan Asteroids located? So let’s jump into today’s article to answer all your questions.

What is Lucy’s Mission?

The Lucy mission is essentially a probe by NASA that will explore the asteroids located around Jupiter. These asteroids are called Trojans. It is believed that these pieces of rocks may hold crucial clues as to how our solar system was formed. This could also give hints about the formation of our planet Earth.

The mission was approved in 2017 along with Psyche as a part of NASA’s Discovery program. This program was based on focussing on relatively cheaper missions in which developmental costs were around $450 million. A year later, the mission was assigned its eight targets and a schedule. It is believed that this Lucy mission would help a great deal in learning about the beginning days of the solar system.

Timeline of Lucy Mission

Mission Announcement4th January 2017
Proposed Launch October 2021
Science Targets Trojan Asteroids
TypeMultiple Flyby
AgencyNASA

Lucy Mission will by these 8 Trojan Asteroids

Lucy’s mission is planned to launch in October 2021 after which it will reach the orbit of Jupiter by two gravity assists i.e. a gravitational force or movement applied to the spacecraft to alter the path or speed of the same.

These gravity assists will firstly be gained in 2022 followed by 2024. In 2025, it will fly by the inner main-belt asteroid Donald Johanson, which was named after the discoverer of the Lucy hominin fossil.

In 2027, it will arrive at the L4 Trojan cloud, where it will fly by four Trojans, Eurybates, Polymele, Leucus, and Orus. After all the flybys, Lucy will return to the Earth in 2031 where it will visit Patroclus in 2033.

What are Trojan Asteroids?

Trojan asteroids are the primary target of this mission. Trojan asteroids are the leftover pieces of the primordial disk. This disk was responsible for the formation of the planets and the Sun. These were later captured by Jupiter’s intense gravity and have been staying there since.

Lucy will be the first independent mission to study these Trojans. NASA believes that they share Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun in form of two groups. One is ahead of Jupiter and the other slightly behind it.

Lucy will study different types of asteroids for a better understanding of their formation. These are:

  • C-type asteroids – It will fly by two C-type asteroids named Eurybates and Donaldjohanson which are rich in carbon content.
  • D-type asteroids – these are much red in colour than C-type and are believed to be rich in volatile organic materials. Lucy will fly by two D-type asteroids, Leucus and Orus.
  • P-type asteroids – Lucy will fly by three P-type asteroids named Polymele and binary pair, Patroclus and Menoetius. These P-type asteroids are much similar to D-type asteroids.

The spacecraft and instruments

The Spacecraft of the mission is 46 feet tall. A major portion of the width will be accounted for by the solar panels for power purposes. The instruments used include two high-resolution cameras, an instrument for measuring the surface temperature of the asteroids and a device for identifying the surface and composition.

The launch is planned for October 2021 and it will be a 12-year mission. An Atlas V 401 rocket will be employed in the mission and will take off from the Cape Carnival in Florida.

Why the study of Trojan Asteroids is important?

Lucy is named after a famous female Australopithecus afarensis fossil found in Ethiopia that, as a relative of modern humans, helped illuminate the evolution of our species. It is also hoped that the spacecraft Lucy will similarly discover our solar system’s earliest days.

Where are Trojan Asteroids located?

Asteroids are located all over the Solar system. But a large number of asteroids are located between Mars and Jupiter forming a belt which is also known as the main asteroid belt.

Many of the asteroids are also located in the orbit same as Jupiter which is in the front or on the back of Jupiter. The Trojan asteroids are located at the Lagrangian points L4 and L5 located at 60 degrees on the front and back of Jupiter respectively.

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How far away are the Trojan asteroids from Jupiter?

The asteroids are about 5.2 astronomical units away from Jupiter and share the same orbit with Jupiter at some 60 degrees ahead of or trail from Jupiter.

Goals and Objectives of Lucy Mission

Lucy will observe the shape, size, age, nature of the structure, and layering of the asteroid. It will also collect information on the color, composition, and regolith properties of the surface.

This will help us to know the distribution of minerals, ices, and species. Lucy will also study the satellites that might orbit the Trojan asteroids.

Conclusion

We got to know that NASA is going to discover and research the Trojan Asteroids to get more information about the existence of the Solar system. Lucy mission will visit 7 different asteroids in a 12-year long journey.

This mission can also be extended and further Trojan asteroids may be explored. Lucy’s mission will be followed by a Psyche mission which will visit the metal asteroid orbiting around the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.

I hope you enjoyed this article (Lucy mission: Where are Trojan Asteroids located?) I was able to answer all of your questions. Ask any queries you may have in the comments section below. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries concerning Trojan Asteroids or any other subject in the relevant field.

FAQ related to (Lucy Missions)

Q- Where and when was Lucy’s skeleton found?

Ans- In 1974, Lucy Skeleton was found on the lands of Ethiopia.

Q- How many types of asteroids are located in space? Which are they?

Ans- There are mainly 3 types of asteroids. C-Type asteroids, D-Type asteroids, and P-Type asteroids.

Q- Are Trojan asteroids dangerous?

Ans- Trojan asteroids are located either ahead or behind Jupiter in the same orbit, so it is not dangerous.

Q- Does Earth have Trojan Asteroids?

Ans- Yes, Earth has Trojan Asteroid that orbits the Sun in the L4 or L5 Lagrangian Points.

Q- Does our Solar System have an asteroid belt?

Ans- Yes, our solar system has an asteroid belt which is located between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter.

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