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NASA’S 1st Space Mission To Study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids – Free PDF Download

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  • NASA is set to launch ‘Lucy’ next week, its first mission to explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids.
  • These asteroids are believed to be the remnants of the early solar system, and studying them will help scientists understand its origins and evolution, and why it looks the way it does.

  • NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will launch in October 2021 on a 12-year journey to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. The Lucy mission will include three Earth gravity assists and visits to eight asteroids.
  • These asteroids are believed to be the remnants of the early solar system, and studying them will help scientists understand its origins and evolution, and why it looks the way it does.

  • The solar-powered mission is estimated to be over 12 years long, during the course of which the spacecraft will visit eight asteroids covering a distance of about 6.3 billion km to deepen the understanding of the “young solar system”.

How did Lucy get its name?

  • Lucy gets its name from the fossilized human ancestor, called “Lucy” by her discoverers, whose skeleton provided unique insight into human evolution.
  • Likewise, the Lucy mission will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system.
  • The spacecraft’s first encounter will be with an asteroid that lies in the main belt that can be found between Mars and Jupiter.
  • This asteroid is named ‘Donald Johnson’ after the paleoanthropologist who discovered the fossilised remains of ‘Lucy’.

When will ‘Lucy’ be launched?

  • The spacecraft will launch from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on an Atlas V 401 rocket during a 21-day launch period that will start on October 16, 2021.
  • Subsequently, the spacecraft will fly by the Earth twice in order to use the planet’s gravitational field to assist it on its journey to the asteroids.

Aim of the mission

  • NASA says that as per some planet formation and evolution models, the Trojan asteroids are believed to be formed from the same material that led to the formation of planets nearly 4 billion years ago when the solar system was formed.
  • NASA says that as per some planet formation and evolution models, the Trojan asteroids are believed to be formed from the same material that led to the formation of planets nearly 4 billion years ago when the solar system was formed.

  • Therefore, the mission is designed to understand the composition of the diverse asteroids that are a part of the Trojan asteroid swarms, to determine the mass and densities of the materials and to look for and study the satellites and rings that may orbit the Trojan asteroids.

Categories of Asteroids

  • First, those found in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. This region is estimated to contain somewhere between 1.1-1.9 million asteroids.

  • The second group is that of trojans (the name comes from Greek mythology), which are asteroids that share an orbit with a larger planet.
  • NASA reports the presence of Jupiter, Neptune and Mars trojans.
  • In 2011, they reported an Earth trojan as well.

  • The third classification of asteroids is under Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA), which has orbits that pass close to the Earth. Those that cross the Earth’s orbit are called Earth-crossers. More than 10,000 such asteroids are known, of which over 1,400 are classified as potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs).

Question:

Name the first Spacecraft to visit the Solar System?
A. Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11
B. Ranger 1 and Ranger 2
C. Surveyor 6 and Surveyor 7
D. Viking 1 and Viking 2

 

 

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