Lucy will take black and white and color images, and use a diamond beam splitter to shine far-infrared light on the asteroids to measure their temperature and map their surfaces. It also collects other measurements as it flies by. These data can help scientists understand how planets may have formed.
Sarah Dodson-RobinsonAssistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware said that Lucy can provide a clear timetable, not only when The planet was originally formed, but Where.
“If you can determine when the Trojan asteroid formed, then you have some information about when Jupiter formed, and you can start asking questions like’Where did Jupiter go in the solar system?’,” she said. “Because it is not always where it is now. It has been transferred.”
To determine the age of the asteroid, the spacecraft will search for surface craters that may not be larger than a football field.
“[The Trojans] There are no collisions and ruptures like other asteroids closer to us,” Dodson-Robinson said. “We may see some of these asteroids as if they were formed shortly after they formed. “
During its 4 billion-mile journey, Lucy will receive three gravitational aids from the Earth, which will involve using Earth’s gravity to change the trajectory of the spacecraft without depleting its resources. Coralia AdamThe deputy navigation team leader of the Lucy mission said that each push would increase the speed of the spacecraft from 200 miles per hour to more than 11,000 miles per hour.
Adam said at an engineering media briefing on October 14: “Without this kind of earth gravity assistance, reaching Lucy’s goal would require five times the fuel — or three metric tons — which would make the mission impossible.”
Lucy’s mission is scheduled to end in 2033, but some NASA officials already believe that the spacecraft will last longer. “There will be a lot of fuel on board,” Adam said. “After the last encounter with the binary asteroid, as long as the spacecraft is healthy, we plan to propose an extended mission to NASA to explore more Trojan horses.”