Mission Lucy may solve mysteries of Planetary Origin

Jay Kakade
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Mission Lucy Illustration of Lucy spacecraft around Trojan Asteroid. (Image Credit: Southwest Research Institute)

In October 2021, NASA launched Lucy mission to explore clusters of Trojan asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit. Trojan asteroid is named after Trojan warriors.

Mission Lucy  will help us in finding out solutions for most basic questions, like: How Solar System was formed, How Earth became habitable etc.

Though some of these mysteries are almost solved. But still, we need more clearance and investigation for such questions.

Trojan asteroids are considered as unchanged since the formation of Solar System. Hence, studying Trojan asteroids give us a glimpse How were the planets during early period.



Lucy is planned to explore two clusters of asteroids. Earlier it was thought that these asteroids were formed in Jupiter’s orbit. And would represent Nebular composition. But analysis of physical components of all asteroids are different and same compositions are found scattered across half of the solar system.

It gives out a hypothesis that Trojan Asteroids were not formed only in Jupiter’s orbital distances.

Analysing data collected by Lucy will give us an idea of chemical and physical conditions of Nebula. Trojan asteroids are likely to provide us with evidences of early Solar System, planets and their evolution.

Lucy: Deceptions and Origin

In 1974, researchers found a skeleton of 3.2 million years old Hominin species, similar to humans. This fossil was named as Lucy after a song 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'.

Lucy has Latin origin meaning ‘Light-Bringer’ or ‘Born at the Dawn of Light’. As Lucy marks the early evolutionary evidences of humans, NASA named programme Lucy. Author of an article published in Nature quoted a saying, we are born too late to explore Earth and too early to explore Space. But Lucy can be a light-bringer in revealing mysteries of Jovian system.



References
  • Lucy and Jupiter – understanding the planetary origins. Nat Commun 12, 7346 (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27495-y
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