Tomorrow morning at roughly 7:04 a.m. EDT, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will skim the Earth’s ambiance, passing solely 220 miles above the planet’s surfance. In response to the company, the spacecraft might be slingshotting previous its dwelling to realize among the orbital power it must journey to a never-before-visited inhabitants of asteroids. Much more, this flyby can also be a bit celebratory as Sunday is the first anniversary of Lucy’s launch into house.
At round 6:55 a.m. EDT, Lucy makes its debut with observers on the bottom in Western Australia (the place will probably be 6:55 PM). The spacecraft will rapidly go overhead there and be seen and not using a telescope or binoculars earlier than disappearing at 7:02 a.m. EDT, when it passes into the Earth’s shadow. Lucy will proceed its journey throughout the Pacific Ocean and can emerge from Earth’s shadow at 7:26 AM EDT (a shiny and early 4:26 AM PTD). These within the western US might catch a glimpse of the spacecraft with binoculars round that point, so long as cloud cowl is low.
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“The final time we noticed the spacecraft, it was being enclosed within the payload fairing in Florida,” stated Hal Levison, Lucy principal investigator on the Southwest Analysis Institute (SwRI) Boulder, Colorado workplace, in a press launch. “It’s thrilling that we will stand right here in Colorado and see the spacecraft once more. And this time Lucy might be within the sky.”
After floating over the West Coast, Lucy will quickly recede from the Earth’s neighborhood. It’s going to go the moon to take few extra calibration photographs earlier than persevering with into interplanetary house.
“I’m particularly excited by the ultimate few photographs that Lucy will take of the moon,” stated John Spencer, performing deputy mission scientist at SwRI, in a press launch. “Counting craters to grasp the collisional historical past of the Trojan asteroids is vital to the science that Lucy will perform, and this would be the first alternative to calibrate Lucy’s means to detect craters by evaluating it to earlier observations of the moon by different house missions.”
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One yr right into a 12-year voyage, NASA’s Lucy mission is the primary spacecraft launched to discover the Trojan asteroids. These are a gaggle of primitive house rocks orbiting Jupiter. Sunday’s help from Earth’s gravitational area will place Lucy on a brand new trajectory for an orbit that may final two years.
In 2024, it should return to Earth for a second gravity push that may give Lucy the power wanted to cross the photo voltaic system’s principal asteroid belt. As soon as there, it should observe asteroid Donaldjohanson, after which journey into the main Trojan asteroid swarm. After that, the spacecraft will fly previous six Trojan asteroids: Eurybates and its satellite tv for pc Queta, Polymele and its but unnamed satellite tv for pc, Leucus, and Orus. In 2030, Lucy will return to Earth for yet one more bump that may gear it up for a rendezvous with the Patroclus-Menoetius binary asteroid pair within the trailing Trojan asteroid swarm.
Lucy’s present trajectory will convey the spacecraft even decrease than the Worldwide House Station. Meaning the probe will go by numerous Earth-orbiting satellites and particles. NASA has developed procedures to anticipate potential hazards, and might transfer Lucy out of the best way if want be to keep away from collision.