10/16/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/16/2021 03:23
Lucy will explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. During its 12-year mission, the spacecraft will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one main belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids. These small bodies are remnants of our early solar system, now trapped in stable orbits associated with - but not close to - the giant planet Jupiter. The Trojan asteroids are in two "swarms" that lead and follow Jupiter in its orbit around the Sun and are almost as numerous as the objects in the Main Asteroid Belt. Lucy also will circle back to Earth three times for gravity assists, making it the first spacecraft ever to return to the vicinity of Earth from the outer solar system.
The Lucy mission is named after the fossilized skeleton of an early hominin, or pre-human ancestor, that was found in Ethiopia in 1974 and named "Lucy," by the team of paleontologists who discovered it.
Lucy has the following science objectives at each of its destinations: