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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 5nvklj





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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids?

Dragon
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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:58 am

A little over 4 billion years ago, the planets in our solar system coexisted with vast numbers of small rocky or icy objects orbiting the Sun. These were the last remnants of the planetesimals – the primitive building blocks that formed the planets. Most of these leftover objects were then lost, as shifts in the orbits of the giant planets scattered them to the distant outer reaches of the solar system or beyond. But some were captured in two less-distant regions, near points where the gravitational influence of Jupiter and the Sun balance, and have remained trapped there, mostly untouched, for billions of years.

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.

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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:03 am

NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 6_lucy-crop-1041
Credits: NASA/SwRI

Conceptual image of the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids.

Source / Image Courtesy


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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 334pu7m
Dragon
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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:06 am

NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? Jupiter_trojans-slower_0
Credits: Astronomical Institute of CAS/Petr Scheirich (used with permission)

The time-lapsed animation above shows the movements of the inner planets, Jupiter and both swarms of Trojans (green) during the time period of the Lucy mission.

The L4 Trojans lead Jupiter in its orbit and the L5 Trojans follow. By tradition, the L4 Trojans are named for Greek characters in accounts of the Trojan War. The L5 bodies are named for characters on the Trojan side of the conflict.

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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 334pu7m
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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:08 am

NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? Patroclus-menoetius
Credits: Image Courtesy of W.M. Keck Observatory/Lynette Cook

SwRI scientist studied the binary asteroid Patroclus-Menoetius, shown in this artist’s conception, to determine that a shake-up of the giant planets likely happened early in the solar system’s history, within the first 100 million years.

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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:09 am



NASA's Newest Missions: Lucy & Psyche

NASA announces two new missions to explore our early solar system.


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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 334pu7m
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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:19 am



It is generally believed that about 3.8 billion years ago, after a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment, most of the planetesimals within the Solar System had either been ejected from the Solar System entirely, into distant eccentric orbits such as the Oort cloud, or had collided with larger objects due to the regular gravitational nudges from the giant planets .

A few planetesimals may have been captured as moons, such as Phobos and Deimos , and many of the small high-inclination moons of the giant planets.


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NASA's Lucy in the Sky with … Asteroids? 334pu7m
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Post by Dragon on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:21 am



Out beyond the orbit of Neptune sits a vast frontier: the Kuiper Belt… and scientists are itching to know what's out there.

Made up of millions of icy and rocky objects, including dwarf planets, the Kuiper Belt is becoming a main attraction for scientists and researchers alike.



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