NASA’s Lucy mission is heading to the Jupiter Trojans – two swarms of primitive asteroids trapped in Jupiter’s orbit that may hold clues to the formation of the planets. Lucy launched on October 16, 2021. After a year in orbit around the Sun, it is returning home on its launch anniversary for the first of three Earth gravity assists. On October 16, 2022, Lucy will fly by the Earth like a partner in a swing dance, boosting its speed and elongating its orbit around the Sun.
At 7:04 am, Eastern Time, Lucy will make its closest approach at just 219 miles above the planet: lower than the International Space Station. This exceptionally close shave will increase its velocity by 4.5 miles per second, setting Lucy on track to gain even more speed when it returns to Earth for its second gravity assist in December 2024.