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NASA’s Lucy mission:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:  Awareness in space.

 

Context:

Eurybates is one of a handful of asteroids that Lucy will visit over the next 12 years.

  • Recently, astronomers at Las Vegas were observing a star which appeared to briefly blink out because the asteroid Eurybates had passed in front of it.
  • As Eurybates eclipsed the star, a phenomenon scientists call an “occultation,” a 40-mile- (64-kilometer-) wide shadow the size of the asteroid passed over the region.
  • This information will be used by Lucy researchers to supplement data gathered by the Lucy spacecraft’s close flyby of Eurybates in 2027.

 

Why Occultations?

An occultation is any event where one celestial object passes in front of another, blocking the latter object from an observer’s view. The best-known example is a solar eclipse, which occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, blocking the Sun from our view.

 

Current Affairs

 

About ‘Lucy’ Mission:

This is NASA’s first mission to explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

It is a solar-powered mission.

It is estimated to be over 12 years long, during which the spacecraft will visit eight asteroids covering a distance of about 6.3 billion km to deepen the understanding of the “young solar system”.

 

Aim of the mission:

The mission is designed to understand the composition of the diverse asteroids that are a part of the Trojan asteroid swarms, to determine the mass and densities of the materials and to look for and study the satellites and rings that may orbit the Trojan asteroids.

 

Current Affairs

 

What are Trojan Asteroids? Why are they called so?

These asteroids are believed to be the remnants of the early solar system, and studying them will help scientists understand its origins and evolution, and why it looks the way it does.

  • The Trojan asteroids are believed to be formed from the same material that led to the formation of planets nearly 4 billion years ago when the solar system was formed.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the mission is named after ‘Lucy’, a 3.2 million-year-old ancestor who belonged to a species of hominins (which include humans and their ancestors)?

 

Did you know that the Asteroids are divided into three categories? Which are those? Reference: read this.

Sources: Indian Express.