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Trojan Asteroids Loom Nearer as NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft Fires Up Engine for First Time

Recent off of its first asteroid encounter that revealed a bonus space rock, Lucy is now prepared for the massive leagues. The NASA spacecraft started maneuvering its option to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, touring to a farther orbit in deep house with a view to attain the Jovian system.

On Wednesday, Lucy fired its major engine for the primary time in house as step one in a collection of maneuvers to alter the speed of the spacecraft in order that it could attain the distant realms of the Trojan asteroids, NASA just lately announced. Following its transient engine burn, the staff behind the mission will analyze the spacecraft’s efficiency earlier than setting it up for a bigger maneuver by way of deep house, which can possible happen on Saturday.

The collection of deep house maneuvers are supposed to place Lucy for an upcoming Earth gravity help in December, utilizing its dwelling planet as a slingshot in the direction of its new trajectory. “The Lucy spacecraft will transition from its present orbit across the Solar–one which simply skims the inner-edge of the principle asteroid belt–to a brand new orbit that can carry it past the orbit of Jupiter and into the realm of the Trojan asteroids,” NASA wrote.

Lucy will fly inside 230 miles (370 kilometers) of Earth, catapulting its approach by way of the principle asteroid belt the place it would encounter asteroid Donaldjohanson in April 2025, and out into the Jupiter Trojan asteroid swarm. Lucy will start its tour of the Trojan asteroids in 2027 by visiting Eurybates and its binary accomplice Queta, adopted by Polymele and its binary accomplice, Leucus, Orus, and the binary pair Patroclus and Menoetius.

Previous to this transition, Lucy’s earlier maneuvers have modified its velocity by lower than 10 miles per hours (a couple of meters per second) and had been carried out by the spacecraft’s much less highly effective thrusters. On its option to the Trojans, nonetheless, the asteroid probe is scaling up. The 2 deep house maneuvers are designed to alter the speed of the spacecraft by round 2,000 miles per hour (roughly 900 meters per second) and can eat roughly half of the spacecraft’s onboard gas, in line with NASA.

Lucy launched in October 2021 with the goal of learning the Trojan asteroids, a bunch of rocky our bodies that lead and observe Jupiter because it orbits the Solar. The spacecraft pulled off its first asteroid encounter in November 2023, briefly rendezvousing with Dinkinesh in the principle asteroid belt, which turned out to have two tiny satellites closely orbiting around it.

For extra spaceflight in your life, observe us on X and bookmark Gizmodo’s devoted Spaceflight page.

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