“The port is in the sky!” NASA announced this Saturday at 9:34 GMT (6:34 in Brazil) on its Twitter accounts.
The US space agency was thinking of launching its Atlas V rocket with the Luci spacecraft, the first spacecraft designed to study the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.
Luci embarked on a 12-year journey to study eight different asteroids: one in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter and seven more located in a region called Troy. The goal is to gain new perspectives on the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
NASA’s Luci Mission during takeoff this Saturday (16) in Florida, USA. – Photo: NASA
Trojan asteroids, according to the mission’s chief scientist, Hal Lewison, are physically different from each other. “For example, they have very different colors, some are gray, some are red,” he explained at a press conference on Friday (15). The differences indicate how far away from the Sun they may have formed before they set out on their current orbit.
“Whatever Lucy discovers will give us vital clues to the formation of our solar system,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science department.
The Atlas rocket, from NASA, is boarding the spacecraft Luci during the launch that took place this Saturday (16). – Photo: NASA
The image below shows the trajectory that the Atlas V rocket crossed during launch.
The image shows the trajectory of the Atlas V rocket with the Luci spacecraft during the launch that took place this Saturday (16). – Photo: NASA
The Atlas V rocket with the Luci spacecraft was launched from the Cape Canaveral space base in Florida in the United States.
At that time, the Atlas rocket with the Luci spacecraft was launched from the space base in Florida. – Photo: NASA / United Launch Alliance
NASA’s Luci mission spacecraft was launched this Saturday morning from a space base in Florida, USA (16). – Photo: NASA
Around 7:40 (Brazilian time), Luci successfully separated from the rocket and now travels alone towards the asteroids. NASA scientists, who watched the launch of the control room in Florida, celebrated this moment with applause.
“Ports” and Trojan asteroids
NASA launches first spacecraft designed to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids
The probe was named Lucy after an ancient fossil that helped understand the evolution of the human species.
Scientific evidence, according to NASA, indicates that the Troy asteroids are remnants of the material that formed the giant planets. Their study can reveal previously unknown data on their origin and the evolution of our solar system, just as Lucy’s petrified skeleton revolutionized the scientific understanding of human evolution.
The probe will fly over the asteroid between Mars and Jupiter for the first time around 2025.
“It will be several more years before we reach the first Troy asteroid, but it is worth waiting and investing all the effort because of its enormous scientific value. “They are like diamonds in the sky,” said Hal Levison.
Luci is the first solar-powered spacecraft to move away from the Sun. To do this, she carries two huge solar panels on her ship, almost 7.3 meters wide.
The cost of the mission is about 981 million dollars.
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