NASA’s Lucy spacecraft launched in 2021 and can finally make it to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids the place it’ll discover the rocky location for clues on how our photo voltaic system fashioned.
Its journey to get there’s a advanced one because it must make the most of Earth’s gravity to “slingshot” it at pace for a second gravity help round Earth in two years’ time that may set it on a course for Jupiter.
This Sunday, Lucy will skim Earth’s environment as a part of its first slingshot process, coming inside simply 240 miles of the bottom — that’s decrease than the International Space Station, which orbits 250 miles above Earth.
The shut fly-by will give of us in Western Australia and likewise the Western U.S. an opportunity to view Lucy throughout its high-speed move.
Take be aware, although, the fly-by comes with dangers to the mission itself, as Lucy has to navigate Earth-orbiting satellites and huge quantities of area particles. To stop probably catastrophic collisions, NASA has developed a system able to anticipating potential hazards by enabling Lucy to execute small maneuvers to keep away from a crash.
At round 6:55 a.m. ET (6:55 p.m. native time) on Sunday, October 16, Lucy will hurtle over Western Australia. NASA’s spacecraft might be clearly seen to the bare eye as a brilliant gentle for as much as seven minutes earlier than disappearing because the spacecraft passes into Earth’s shadow.
Lucy will proceed over the Pacific Ocean in darkness and emerge from the Earth’s shadow at 7:26 a.m. ET (4:26 a.m. PT). At this level, assuming the skies are clear, of us within the Western U.S. will be capable of get a view of Lucy by way of binoculars because it seems within the south-western sky. The video on the prime of the web page gives an correct description on exactly the place within the sky to search for Lucy.
“The last time we saw the spacecraft, it was being enclosed in the payload fairing in Florida,” mentioned Hal Levison, Lucy principal investigator on the Colorado-based Southwest Research Institute. “It is exciting that we will be able to stand here in Colorado and see the spacecraft again. And this time Lucy will be in the sky.”
Following its fly-by, Lucy will then head quickly away from Earth, passing by the moon earlier than persevering with out into interplanetary area.
In two years from now, Lucy will return for a second gravity-assist maneuver. Once it reaches its vacation spot in 2025, the spacecraft will observe asteroid Donaldjohanson earlier than heading into the main Trojan asteroid swarm, flying previous six focused Trojan asteroids. Lucy will then return to Earth for a 3rd gravity help in 2030 that may ship it towards the Patroclus-Menoetius binary asteroid pair within the trailing Trojan asteroid swarm.