January 20, 2022

Meet the 8 asteroids NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will visit

Meet the 8 asteroids NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will visit
Meet the 8 asteroids NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will visitMeet the 8 asteroids NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will visit

(Image credit: NASA Goddard/YouTube)

The solar system is populated with asteroids as different as our planets. The main asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, is home to many different types of space rocks. But a new mission called Lucy will soon launch to study a group of asteroids that has yet to be studied up close: the Trojans.

The Trojans aren’t quite like the rocks found in the asteroid belt. They are all remnants from the formation of the solar system. But whereas the asteroid belt rocks have a big range of reflectiveness, or albedo, the Trojans tend to be mostly non-reflective rocks. Trojans also differ in that they orbit farther away from the sun, near Jupiter’s orbit. 

NASA’s Lucy mission is scheduled to launch on Oct. 16, 2021, to study these unique space rocks. The mission will be powered by solar panels and is equipped with four instruments that can observe the temperature, albedo and surface features of the asteroids it will visit. Lucy is scheduled to visit eight asteroids: one main belt rock and seven Trojans. Learn more about each of these targets in this countdown!