The Lucy mission: exploring the unexplored

Lucy is planned to launch in 2021 on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle, after which it will gain two gravity assists from Earth; one in 2022, and one in 2024. In 2025, it will fly by the inner main- belt asteroid (52246) Donaldjohanson, which was named after the discoverer of the Lucy hominid fossil. In 2027, it will arrive at the L4 Trojan cloud (the Greek camp of asteroids that orbits about 60° ahead of Jupiter), where it will fly by four Trojans, (3548) Eurybates (with its satellite), then (15094) Polymele, (11351) Leucus, and (21900) Orus. After these flybys, Lucy will return to Earth in 2031 whereupon it will receive another slight gravity assist to take it to the L5 Trojan cloud (the Trojan camp which trails about 60° behind Jupiter), where it will visit the binary Trojan 617 Patroclus with its satellite Menoetius in 2033. The mission may end with the Patroclus–Menoetius flyby, but at that point Lucy will be in a stable, 6-year orbit between the L4 and L5 clouds, and a mission extension will be possible.

Dr. Ocampo will present an overview of the Lucy mission that will overfly the Trojans asteroids. The mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral, USA, on October 16th, this year.

02/09/2021 - 15:00
Dr. Adriana Ocampo
NASA HQ, Planetary Science Division, Washington DC, USA