NASA will launch the Lucy mission tomorrow, Saturday, from Cape Canaveral in Florida to visit Jupiter's Trojan asteroids. Hence, engineers rolled out the newest asteroid probe ahead of its departure.

The space agency will livestream the launch at 5 a.m. EDT. You may see the launch online by going to the agency's website or using the video embedded below this page.

NASA Lucy Solar Panel
(Photo: NASA/Lockheed Martin)
At 24 feet (7.3 meters) across each, Lucy’s two solar panels underwent initial deployment tests in January 2021. In this photo, a technician at Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, inspects one of Lucy’s arrays during its first deployment. These massive solar arrays will power the Lucy spacecraft throughout its entire 4-billion-mile, 12-year journey through space as it heads out to explore Jupiter’s elusive Trojan asteroids.

Lucy Rolls Out on Launch Pad Ahead of Launch said the Atlas V rocket, produced by United Launch Alliance (ULA), began its 550-meter (1,800-foot) trip from its vertical integration facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 shortly after 10:30 a.m. EDT. Engineers placed the 57.3-meter (188-foot) tall rocket atop its pad until launch day after the deployment took almost an hour. Lockheed Martin made the 1,500-kilogram (3,300-pound) spaceship.

Lucy's rocket was supposed to take Boeing's Starliner crew capsule on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station, but after discovering a valve problem in the capsule's launch vehicle, teams were forced to send the craft back to the factory to deal with such situations; that flight is now scheduled to launch in 2022.

As a result, Lucy was given command of the rocket. ULA had to detach the rocket's double Centaur upper stage and the strap-on solid rocket boosters meant to carry the Starliner capsule into orbit to enable that mission. Before the spacecraft's integration, a new Centaur upper stage with a single RL10 engine was placed on the rocket's first stage.

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Lucy Asteroid's Mission

Lucy will be the first spacecraft to bounce between seven Trojan asteroids. Still, it will first stop by the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter before traveling to both the leading and following swarms.

NASA said Lucy will reveal the variety of the primordial bodies that created the planets for the first time." The agency added that no other space mission in history had been dispatched to as many diverse destinations in separate orbits around our sun.

The spacecraft will utilize standard chemical propulsion technology to aid navigating. Still, instead of walking gently, it will fly past areas of interest to conserve fuel. That isn't much of a problem, though, because Lucy can still take photos and gather spectroscopic data while zipping by.

Trojan Asteroids Explained

CNET said that the solar system was overflowing with billions of rocky and ice things orbiting a faint sun long before planets were discovered. Some of these shards fused together throughout time to produce bigger planets like Earth and Mars. However, a slew of floating pebbles was left behind along the route.

Many were carried into the infinite depths of the universe, taking their secrets with them. Still, a few remain in our solar system's furthest reaches.

These ancient rocks, which have been around for billions of years, are caught between the gravitational pulls of the sun and Jupiter. Jupiter's Trojan asteroids are what they're called. They create two clusters that share an orbit with the gas giant, which NASA accurately refers to as "time capsules from the origin of our solar system." So far, over 7,000 have been discovered.

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