NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft Will Fly Past its Tenth Asteroid Written 27 January 2023


Depiction of NASA's Lucy mission. | Credit: NASA

The Houston Chronicle reports that NASA’s Lucy spacecraft “is adding one more asteroid to its flyby list, bringing its total to 10 and giving scientists a close-up look 17 months sooner than expected.” The spacecraft is “on a 12-year voyage to visit Trojan asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun.” These space rocks “could unlock secrets to the formation of planets in our solar system.” Lucy launched in October 2021, “and scientists expected it would reach the first asteroid, Donaldjohanson, in the main asteroid belt in April of 2025.” That was to be “followed by eight Trojan asteroids, some orbiting ahead of Jupiter and some trailing behind, between August 2027 and March 2033.” Now, Lucy will pass roughly “280 miles from a yet-to-be-named asteroid – currently referred to as (152830) 1999 VD57 – in the main asteroid belt on Nov. 1, 2023.” This was added “so Lucy’s team could test the spacecraft’s asteroid-tracking navigation system.” This new system “addresses a problem that had plagued previous flyby missions: it was difficult to determine precisely how far the spacecraft was from the target and which way to point the cameras.”
Full Story (Houston Chronicle)