NASA To Send Two Missions To Study Mysterious Asteroids In The Early Solar System

Posted: Jan 5 2017, 7:13am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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NASA to Send Two Missions to Study Mysterious Asteroids in the Early Solar System
(Left) An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft flying by the Trojan Eurybates – one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. (Right) Psyche, the first mission to the metal world 16 Psyche will map features, structure, composition, and magnetic field, and examine a landscape unlike anything explored before. Credits: SwRI and SSL/Peter Rubin
  • Psyche will teach us about the hidden cores of the Earth, Mars, Mercury and Venus.

NASAs two space missions will reveal information about metallic asteroids of the early solar system

NASA planned to launch Lucy in October 2021. The robotic spacecraft will reach an asteroid in 2025. NASA also announced that Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids will be explored by Lucy from 2027 to 2033, two swarms present in Jupiter’s orbits trapped the asteroids. Scientists found that the Trojans are historical elements on the solar system and they formed much earlier before Jupiter’s existing orbit.

Trojans are from the material that made the outer layer of the planets,and give us information about solar system’s history, and that’s unique, statedHarold F. Levison, principal investigator of the Lucy mission from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Lucy will use new instruments named RALPH and LORRI to observe the planet, according to NASA. Lucy is based on of NASA’s success of New Horizon mission to Pluto and Kuiper Belt, and veterans of this mission are now member of Lucy. The spacecraft will also useOTES instruments having members of OSIRIS-Rex team the mission that went to asteroid Bennu.

Another mission named Psyche will explore the main asteroid belt that’s a large metal asteroid named 16 Psyche. The diameter of the asteroid is 130 miles, and unlike several other asteroids these are made of metals, like nickel and iron, resembling the cores existing on earth.

Scientists yet don’t know if the Psyche is an early planets’ core that lost its rocky surface due to various collisions. NASA scientists will also observe how different objects and planets got separated making crusts, mantles and cores.

NASA is excited to explore another world made of metal instead of ice and rocks, said Psyche Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe.

The robotic mission will launch in October 2023, and will reach the asteroid in 2030 following the spacecraft in 2024 and the mars flyby in 2025.

Other than these missions NASA will also fund the Near Earth Object Camera, NEOCam for one more year. The cam was designed to survey the space regions existing very close to the earth.

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