NASA has said that decks are all cleared for the launch of the Lucy mission. The mission will be launched to study the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter. The space agency said that it has tested Lucy’s functions with loaded fuel. It is now preparing to pack into a capsule. As planned, it will be launched on October 16. This will be NASA’s first mission to Trojan asteroids. These asteroids circle Sun. They are in two swarms. The first one is just ahead of Jupiter’s path. The second one trails behind the gas giant. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit these asteroids to study them. NASA said that the mission will provide an opportunity to understand and probe the solar system’s past.
NASA engineers said that they have tested Lucy’s instruments. All of its electrical, mechanical, thermal instruments and antenna are working as required. According to the space agency, Lucy’s fuel tank makes up nearly 40 percent of the spacecraft. The fuel will be used to propel the spacecraft towards its destination. It also has solar arrays. The arrays are similar to the size of a school. Solar arrays will recharge batteries that will supply power to Lucy’s scientific instruments. The spacecraft will be launched atop the rocket Altas V. It is an expendable launch vehicle. It will carry Lucy outside Earth’s atmosphere to start its journey.
NASA expects that studying these asteroids will help them in understanding the theories behind the solar system’s formation almost 4.5 billion years ago and how they ended up in the current scenario. The Lucy spacecraft will be placed in launch configuration. Engineers will monitor it continuously. If the launch is delayed due to bad weather or any other issues, the agency said that it will make another launch attempt on the following day. According to NASA, Lucy is the 13th mission in its Discovery Program which was started in 1992. Under this, NASA had decided to launch a series of missions to explore the solar system.