NASA's Lucy Asteroid Hunter: Speeding Through the Solar System with Thrilling Maneuvers

NASA’s Lucy Asteroid Hunter: Speeding Through the Solar System with Thrilling Maneuvers

NASA’s scrappy asteroid hunter Lucy is about to pull off some serious stunts. This week, the intrepid spacecraft will fire up its engines not once, but twice, in a pair of tricky maneuvers to rocket Lucy to its next destination.

These burns will drain half of Lucy’s fuel tanks, but boost its speed by a whopping 2,000 mph. Lucy will then be on course for an Earth flyby in late 2024, gaining speed from our planet’s gravitational pull. A celestial pit stop before continuing its epic tour of the solar system.

Lucy’s currently buzzing through the asteroid belt, where it visited the tiny two-headed asteroid Dinkinesh last November. More surprise double asteroids! Who knew?

But soon Lucy will blast beyond the belt, for a 2025 rendezvous with asteroid Donaldjohanson. A quick howdy-do before the main event: Lucy’s extended visit to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.

These Trojans trail and lead Jupiter in its orbit, split into Greek and Trojan camps. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to survey both groups up close, starting with the Greeks in 2027. We’re talking close flybys of five asteroids and three mini-moons!

 

 

After another Earth gravity assist in 2031, Lucy will head for the Trojans, capping its 11 year journey with final observations. 12 asteroids, 7 moons, a trailblazing mission revealing secrets of our early solar system.

For Lucy, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. Its bold trajectory shows NASA at its boundary-pushing best. This scrappy probe is about to pull off cosmic feats to make any space explorer cheeer. Even if it means running on empty.