NASA’s Lucy mission went to visit an asteroid and got more than it bargained for
NASA’s Lucy mission, which was launched in October 2021, is set to visit seven different asteroids as part of its 12-year journey in the solar system. The mission has already made its first targeted visits to two asteroids—Eurybates and Polymele—in April and May respectively, and has already started to unveil exciting new secrets about the ancient objects.
Lucy has found evidence of unexpected activity on these asteroids, including the presence of unexpected organics embedded in the surface material. In addition, recent photographs taken of one of them reveal an ancient impact crater in its center, suggesting that it has been disturbed and reshaped in the distant past.
Using an assortment of onboard instruments, such as optical cameras, spectrometers and laser altimeters, Lucy has already taken unprecedented images of its targets and collected new data that will give astronomers a better understanding of how the asteroids were formed and their possible origins and evolution.
The mission is set to continue gathering new data and making discoveries during its visit to the five remaining asteroids, which range in age from 4.2 to 3.2 billion years. As this information is gathered and analyzed, it will undoubtedly lead to further exciting finds about the origins and evolution of our solar system.