NASA’s Lucy mission is ready to take off from Troy asteroid

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Lucy mission Obtained its nickname from some bone fossils of early human ancestors, Alpha Australopithecus, Discovered in 1974, changed the concept of human origin and evolution. The research team hopes that this spacecraft will allow us to understand the formation and evolution of the solar system, so as to do the work of this skeleton for planetary science and paleoanthropology.

In the early days of the solar system, debris orbited in flattened disks around a young sun. The bulk and particulate matter stuck together, snowballed, and matured into the neat planets we see today. Asteroids are essentially discard piles in this process. NASA’s Lucy Project Scientist Tom Statler said: “They are remnants from a very early period before the appearance of planets.”

He compares the study of asteroids to the study of pyramids-if the pyramids are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in this metaphor, and Trojan asteroids are the materials from which they are built. You can only understand how these great structures are formed from finished triangular products. Finding abandoned building areas, you can deduce more about their origins. “The object that eventually became a Trojan horse formed throughout the outer solar system, and was then transported to its current location and trapped there,” Staterer said. “Trojan horses are remnants that have been cleaned up and left there.”

Even if our own planet is a rock, not a gas giant, studying exoplanets will provide us with information about how it formed. “It is becoming increasingly clear that no planet develops in isolation,” Statler said. “The reason why the earth is like this is because the solar system is also like this… To understand the earth, we need to understand how other planets are formed and developed.”

Lucy will rely on three main instruments: L’LORRI, L’TES and L’Ralph. The “L” prefix indicates that they are part of the Lucy mission, as they are based on previously flown equipment. LORRI and Ralph are musical instruments on board New horizons Pluto mission And the Kuiper belt. “L’LORRI” means “Lucy Lowry”, said Michael Vincent, assistant director of the Space Operations Department of Southwest Research Institute. OTES is OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrive Asteroid Bennu, It comes in part from an instrument called TES, which previously flew on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. “The devil we know is what we want to hold on,” Vincent said. (In addition, one of the scientists who performed the mission had a French background. Vincent joked, “Trying to classify this place.”)

L’LORRI is essentially a fancy camera, clear enough to take clear pictures of 200-foot craters from 600 miles away, drawing them to reveal the history of asteroids. It can also look for rings and moons, and help Lucy navigate to asteroids. After all, picking out the far point to aim at is not easy. “These things are not big on the outside, we have to get a share of the pie,” Vincent said.

The working principle of L’TES is a bit like those non-contact thermometers you may know from the Covid-19 screening, but the instrument is not aimed at the forehead, but at a point on the asteroid, and by detecting Infrared radiation is used to measure temperature. it. “Over time, you can build an overall picture by sweeping across different surfaces,” Vincent said. Their goal is to measure the “thermal inertia”, that is, how quickly the asteroid part is heated or cooled—an indicator of what material it is made of. For example, the heat of sand is different from that of rocks, and you might notice this if you take a long walk on the beach at sunset.

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