The Lucy spacecraft will meet Earth tomorrow

NASA's Lucy spacecraft, which was launched last year to study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, will pass by Earth tomorrow to use the hook-stone method to collect enough energy for get an orbital upgrade.

BingMag.com The Lucy spacecraft will meet Earth tomorrow

NASA's Lucy spacecraft, which was launched last year to study Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, will pass by Earth tomorrow to use the hook-stone method to collect enough energy for get an orbital upgrade.

This is the first human mission to the Trojan asteroids of the planet Jupiter and in the first step to upgrade the orbit, on October 16 at 07:04 Eastern Time Zone (October 24 at 14:34 Tehran) The spacecraft will pass through the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere.

This is a very close pass for the spacecraft, which will be only about 359 kilometers away from the surface of the planet. Thus, in one year of the launch, Lucy will obtain the required orbital energy with the gravitational assistance of the hook stone to continue its journey and reach a group of asteroids that have not been closely studied so far.

"Trojan asteroids" (Trojan Asteroids), which were discovered in 1906 by the German astronomer Max Wolf, revolve around the Sun in the same orbit as Jupiter, but one group moves in front and one behind it. The Lucy spacecraft has now completed one year of its 12-year, 6.43 billion kilometer journey to these objects. The spacecraft will then return to Earth for a second gravity boost. The second step provides enough energy for Lucy to reach the main asteroid belt. where she will meet up with Siac Donaldjohanson and then make her way to Jupiter's advancing Trojan asteroid group.

In this region, Lucy will pass six Trojan asteroids: Eurybates and its moon "Queta", "Polymele" and its still unnamed moons, "Leucus" and "Orus". Then, in 2030, it will return to Earth for the third stage of gravity assistance to prepare to meet the double asteroid "Patroclus-Menoetius" in Jupiter's retrograde Trojan asteroid group.

For the first stage of gravity assistance that On October 24, Lucy approaches the Earth from the direction of the Sun. Although in this way, ground observers will not be able to see the spacecraft in the days before the passage, but Lucy will be able to take pictures of almost the full view of the Earth and the Moon. Mission scientists use these images to calibrate scientific instruments.

As mentioned, during this passage, Lucy is very close to Earth and even below the International Space Station (ISS), a region full of It will be from satellites and space debris. To ensure the safety of the spacecraft in this crowded area, NASA has developed a procedure to avoid potential hazards and perform small maneuvers to avoid collisions if necessary.

"Coralie Adam" ) the manager of Lucy's navigation team from "Kintx Aerospace" said: "Lucy's spacecraft is prepared for two different maneuvers. If the mission team detects a risk of collision with a satellite or space debris, the spacecraft will be moved 12 hours before the close pass, thereby changing the time of the closest pass by 2 to 4 seconds. This correction is small, but enough to avoid a collision.

The pass will also be low enough that the mission team must also account for the atmospheric drag that affects the spacecraft's motion. Lucy's large solar arrays also enhance this effect.

BingMag.com The Lucy spacecraft will meet Earth tomorrow

Graphic design of the Lucy spacecraft meeting Jupiter's Trojan asteroids
Credit: Southwest Research Institute

"Rich Burns" (Rich Burns), the director of the Lucy project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, on the importance of this issue "In the original plan, Lucy's pass was 50 kilometers closer to Earth, but when we had to proceed with this flight with one of the arrays not locked, we decided to use the fuel reserves to pass the spacecraft at a slightly higher altitude," he said. to reduce the drag force on the solar arrays.

At around 06:55 am EST (14:25 Tehran time) Lucy will first be visible to observers on the ground in Western Australia. This spacecraft quickly passes over the heads of observers and can be seen even with the naked eye for a few minutes. Then at 07:02 AM EDT (14:32 Tehran time) it will be in the Earth's shadow and will be hidden from view.

Lucy will continue its passage in darkness and at 07:00 26 Eastern time zone (14:56 Tehran time) will leave the earth's shadow. If there are not many clouds in the sky, observers in the western United States should be able to observe Lucy with binoculars. "The last time we saw the spacecraft was in the payload bay in Florida. Now it's exciting to be able to stand in Colorado and watch it again, this time in the sky

After its pass by Earth, Lucy quickly moves away, passes by the Moon and takes a few more pictures to calibrate the instruments before heading into interplanetary space.

Cover photo: Graphic design of the meeting of the space probe Lucy with the Earth
Credit: NASA

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