Planets and Moons  ID: 13950

NASA Just Days Away From Launching Probe To Mysterious Asteroid Belt To Explore "Fossils" Of The Early Solar System Live Shots

12 Years, 8 Asteroids, 1 Spacecraft
Countdown Is On For The Launch Of NASA’s Bold Mission To Explore Ancient Asteroids

Fossils of the solar system: On October 16, NASA will launch LUCY, the first-ever mission to a mysterious group of asteroids that are pristine “fossils” of our solar system.

Trojan asteroids are remnants of the ancient material that formed the outer planets some 4.5 billion years ago! Named after characters in Greek mythology, these asteroids circle the Sun in two swarms, with one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other trailing behind it. Lucy will visit an unprecedented eight asteroids during its epic journey.

Lucy’s name is a nod to the famous 3.2 million year old “Lucy” skeleton that helped scientists piece together human evolution. Just as the Lucy fossil changed our understanding of human evolution, this Lucy in the sky will revolutionize our understanding of the Solar System’s origins.

Lucy is the first spacecraft to visit this group of asteroids, and it’ll also be the first probe to return to the vicinity of Earth from the outer solar system when it swings back to adjust course.

Fun Fact: Each of the two groups of Trojan asteroid swarms are as far away from Jupiter as Jupiter is from the Sun!

Fun Fact: When the Lucy spacecraft flies into the sky on Oct 16, it will be carrying a 3.98 gm, or 19.9 carat, diamond with it. This manufactured diamond (1-mm thick and 38 mm in diameter) serves as the beamsplitter for Lucy's far-infrared spectrometer, L'TES. That instrument will allow scientists to determine the temperature, and thus infer the surface properties, of the Trojan asteroids.

Live interviews will be offered on Oct. 15, 2021 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. EASTERN TIME.

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For more information about the Lucy mission and the Trojan asteroids visit:

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*Please note that we may not be able to accommodate all requests for a specific expert. If we cannot fit your request we will offer alternatives.*

Suggested Anchor Intro:
Tomorrow NASA will make history by launching the Lucy mission, the first mission to study the Trojan asteroids. This unique group of asteroids circles the Sun in two swarms - with one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other trailing behind it. These ancient asteroids are virtually untouched since the birth of our solar system, and like fossils on Earth, hold important clues to the past. Here to talk to us about this special mission and what it means is Lucy expert XX.

Suggested Questions:
The Lucy mission is planning to take a trip to the Trojan asteroids. Can you tell us what the Trojan asteroids are?
What’s the difference between an asteroid and a comet?
This isn’t NASA’s first mission to study an asteroid up close. What can these particular asteroids tell us?
What are you most excited about for this mission?
What are the ways that the public can become involved in the Lucy mission?

Longer Interview Questions:
Lucy will be visiting an unprecedented eight asteroids! What are some of the challenges in sending a spacecraft to different locations?
How did the Lucy mission get its name?
What will scientists be looking for as Lucy observes its targets?
How might this mission help us better understand how our solar system formed and maybe even how life got started here on Earth?


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Christina Brooke Mitchell (KBR Wyle Services, LLC): Lead Producer
Michelle Handleman (KBR Wyle Services, LLC): Lead Producer
Jessica Sansarran (NASA): Lead Producer
James Tralie (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Technical Support
James Tralie (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Lead Editor
Courtney A. Lee (ADNET Systems, Inc.): Producer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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SVS >> Asteroid
NASA Science >> Planets and Moons
SVS >> Trojans
SVS >> Trojan Asteroid
SVS >> Lucy