NASA will launch its newest explorer this week. Lucy is a spacecraft that will fly to asteroids near Jupiter to discover more about the solar system's formation.

Lucy will depart from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida early on Saturday, October 16, through a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket.

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(Photo: NASA/SwRI on Wikimedia Commons)
An artist's concept of the Lucy Mission

Lucy Spacecraft o Examine Jupiter Asteroids

Lucy will travel through the solar system to reach the Trojans, a collection of asteroids in Jupiter's orbit. These are thought to be remnants from the creation of the outer planets, which occurred around 4 billion years ago.

NASA said Lucy would visit a record-breaking amount of asteroids over its 12-year mission. The mission will pass by one asteroid in the main belt of the solar system and seven Trojan asteroids. Lucy's course will check back in with Earth three times for gravitational assistance, making it the first spacecraft to return to our planet's proximity from beyond the solar system.

Digital Trends talked to Hal Levison, the mission's chief investigator. They discussed more about Lucy's aims and how it may help solve the riddles of the solar system's creation.

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Where Mission Got Its Name said Lucy is named after a 3.2 million-year-old early australopithecine (humanoid) skeleton whose discovery has long been recognized as a cornerstone in understanding human evolution. According to NASA in a 2017 press release announcing the Lucy mission, the skeleton was called after Lucy in the 1967 Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," a song to which excavators danced during the 1974 expedition that found the body.

In naming a project that intends to teach us more about the beginnings of our solar system, NASA drew inspiration from the Lucy skeleton, which the agency believes marks the birth of humanity.

In a 2017 NASA statement, experts say these asteroids are like jewels in the sky in terms of their scientific significance for understanding how the big planets originated, and the solar system developed.

Where to Watch Launch

Lucy's launch and a range of prelaunch operations, such as preparations for liftoff and expert commentary, will be livestreamed by NASA. You may see the film online by going to the NASA TV website or checking the video linked below this page.

On Saturday, October 16, coverage of the launch will begin at 5 a.m. ET. The launch will take place at 5:34 a.m. ET.

There will be two days of briefings and information prior to the launch if you wish to learn more about the mission. On Thursday, October 14, there will be a live Lucy Rollout Show at 10 a.m. ET, followed by a science briefing at 1 p.m. ET and an engineering briefing with the engineers who built the spacecraft at 3 p.m. ET.

On Friday, October 15, at 3:30 p.m. ET, you may hear from NASA scientists about the mission in a briefing.

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