NASA’s Lucy mission ready to launch: How to watch live

Lucy flies over a Trojan asteroid on this NASA animation.

NASA’s Goddard House Flight Heart

NASA is not any stranger to the photo voltaic system’s most mammoth planet, the gasoline big Jupiter. Robotic explorers, like Juno, have gazed upon its Nice Pink Spot and analyzed its ambiance. However in its planetary neighbourhood lies a group of historic rocks often known as the Trojan asteroids. These rocks are fossils from the earliest period of our photo voltaic system, time capsules locked in a dance across the solar, however we have by no means studied them up shut.  

On Saturday morning, NASA is sending the Lucy spacecraft towards these historic uncooked supplies in an formidable and daring decade-long mission to entry our photo voltaic system’s well-preserved historical past. You’ll be able to comply with alongside reside — we have every thing you have to know just under.

Completely named for the fossil that taught us about humanity’s genesis, Lucy’s 12-year-long trek guarantees to disclose a cosmic evolutionary file. The spacecraft will catch closeup views of a various choice of Trojan asteroids to assist scientists decipher how and why our photo voltaic system’s planets got here to be. 

Proper now, we all know near nothing about these primitive rocks’ properties. However we have rounded up every thing we will that will help you put together for the momentous launch.

Cue “Lucy in the sky with diamonds.”

The best way to watch NASA launch the Lucy mission

You’ll be able to watch the lift-off, at present scheduled for Oct. 16 at 2:34 a.m. PT (5:34 a.m. ET), on-line on NASA TV

Be sure that to examine again nearer to the large day for clips of the launch on CNET Highlights.

Here is that point all over the world:

Saturday, Oct. 16

  • USA: 2:34 a.m. PT / 5:34 a.m. ET
  • Brazil: 6:34 a.m. Rio
  • UK: 10:34 a.m.
  • South Africa: 11:34 a.m.
  • Russia: 12:34 p.m. (Moscow)
  • UAE: 1:34 p.m. 
  • India: 3:04 p.m.
  • China: 5:34 p.m.
  • Japan: 6:34 p.m.
  • Australia: 8:34 p.m. AEDT

When you wait, let’s dive into why this mission could possibly be world-changing for astronomers.

What are the Trojan asteroids?

Lengthy earlier than planets got here into existence, the photo voltaic system overflowed with trillions of rocky and icy our bodies orbiting a dim solar. A few of these fragments slowly fused collectively to type bigger planets, such because the Earth and Mars. However alongside the best way, a bunch of floating rocks had been left over.

Many had been swept into the infinite depths of the universe — taking their secrets and techniques with them — however a smattering nonetheless reside within the outer reaches of our photo voltaic system.

Caught between the gravitational pull of the solar and of Jupiter are these primitive items of rock which have been round for billions of years. They’re often known as Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. NASA aptly refers to them as “time capsules from the start of our photo voltaic system,” they usually type two clusters that share an orbit with the gasoline big. Over 7,000 have been detected up to now.

“The stuff that went into rising Jupiter and Saturn at the moment are trapped in these places,” NASA planetary scientist and principal investigator of the Lucy mission, Hal Levison, mentioned within the mission’s overview.

The place does Lucy are available in?

Lucy would be the first spacecraft to asteroid-hop amongst seven of the Trojan asteroids, however earlier than heading to each the main and trailing swarms, it will go to a essential belt asteroid situated between Mars and Jupiter. 

In inexperienced, you see the main and trailing swarms of Jupiter Trojans. That is the place Lucy is headed.


“We will eight never-before-seen asteroids in 12 years with a single spacecraft,” Tom Statler, Lucy venture scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington mentioned in a statement. “This can be a incredible alternative for discovery as we probe into our photo voltaic system’s distant previous.”

NASA notes that “no different area mission in historical past has been launched to as many various locations in impartial orbits round our solar” and that “Lucy will present us, for the primary time, the range of the primordial our bodies that constructed the planets.” 

The spacecraft will use conventional chemical propulsion know-how that’ll assist with maneuvering, however to avoid wasting gasoline, it will fly previous factors of curiosity as a substitute of treading slowly. That does not pose a lot of a hindrance, although, as a result of Lucy can nonetheless snap pics and acquire spectroscopic data whereas whizzing by.

Mission targets

Armed with a high-gain antenna for communication with Earth; high-tech cameras (coloration, in addition to black and white); an infrared spectrometer and thermometer, the spacecraft will try a number of key features of those asteroids by capturing their bodily properties: 

Floor geology: This contains issues like form, crater dimension, crustal construction and layering.

Floor coloration and composition: Tones and colours of the rocks, mineral make-up and regolith properties, reminiscent of unfastened soil composition, are a few of these options.

Interiors and bulk properties: Lots, densities, powder blankets round craters and different nitty gritty particulars comprise this part.

Satellites and rings: Just a few of the asteroids might need mini-asteroids orbiting them, as if they’re the middle of their very own photo voltaic system. Some would possibly even have Saturn-like rings consisting of super-small rocks or icy our bodies.


NASA’s Lucy will discover eight asteroids over a dozen years.

Lockheed Martin

Prepping for take-off

It is not straightforward being a NASA probe. 

As a result of Lucy will depend on solar energy for the mission, its arrays — massive sufficient to cowl a five-story constructing — needed to endure intense testing to make sure they will not malfunction throughout spaceflight. They’re so large due to how far the probe shall be touring from the solar. 


A researcher engaged on Lucy’s photo voltaic panels.

Lockheed Martin

In keeping with NASA, it should take a complete of 20 minutes for these essential photo voltaic panels to increase after launch. “These 20 minutes will decide if the remainder of the 12-year mission shall be successful,” Levison mentioned in a statement

Mars rovers, reminiscent of Perseverance, have shorter spans of anxiety-inducing moments throughout their EDL part, or entry, descent and touchdown sequence. 

“Mars landers have their seven minutes of terror, we now have this,” Levison remarked.

After a number of iterations of testing, Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy venture supervisor from NASA’s Goddard House Flight Heart in Greenbelt, Maryland, mentioned in a press release that the execution on the bottom was “flawless.” 

Though area is a really completely different enviornment.

On Oct. 16, Lucy shall be transported to the Car Integration Facility on the Cape Canaveral House Power Station and “mated” with the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. That rocket will assist Lucy exit Earth’s ambiance. 

Then, Lucy will propel away from our dwelling planet to start the 12-year voyage, swinging across the photo voltaic system, utilizing Earth’s gravity as leverage 3 times in the course of the journey.

“Launching a spacecraft is sort of like sending a baby off to school — you’ve got executed what can for them to get them prepared for that subsequent massive step on their very own,” Levison mentioned.


Lucy stands 13 ft (4 meters), practically absolutely assembled on this picture.

Lockheed Martin

What’s going to occur after the mission is full?

After a dozen years, Lucy will stabilize close to Earth, then campaign as soon as once more to the Trojan asteroid belt. It’s going to be the primary ever spacecraft to journey all the best way to Jupiter and again dwelling.

Future people will face two choices: acquire Lucy as an artifact and produce it right down to Earth, or permit Jupiter to finally fling it into the solar or out of the photo voltaic system. 

To not concern. Lucy’s job shall be full by then. And maybe our astronomy textbooks shall be amended with the unprecedented data it delivers dwelling. | NASA’s Lucy mission able to launch: The best way to watch reside


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