Not quite 4 million years ago, an ancient ancestor of modern humans roamed the land in what later would become the country of Ethiopia. Thirty-four years ago, Donald Johanson discovered the fossilized skeleton of this creature, later named Lucy, after the Beatles’ 1967 hit “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
Three years from now, a spacecraft named Lucy, inspired by the famous fossil, will begin its exploration that could help determine the early history of the Solar System.
NASA’s Lucy mission will fly by six of those trapped planetesimals – the Jupiter Trojan asteroids – giving humanity its first glimpse of these ancient objects. By studying these fossils of planet formation, the Lucy mission could reveal as much about the development of the solar system as the Lucy fossil did about human evolution. And on the way to the Trojans, Lucy will visit an asteroid that the team has named Donaldjohanson, after the anthropologist that discovered the fossilized skeleton of our ancestor.