NASA Unveils New Asteroid Study Instrument


NASA has revealed more details about its next space mission to explore asteroids in the Trojan field of Jupiter, called Lucy. The spacecraft was built in partnership with aerospace products company Lockheed Martin Space and aims to study the composition of alleged remnants of the Solar System’s past.

The space agency announced the completion of a device called Lucy’s Thermal Emission Spectrometer (L’TES), developed by the University of Arizona, in the USA. Its role will be to measure the infrared energy emitted by the asteroids and bring important information about the surface properties of these bodies.

The plan is for Lucy to remotely visit seven specific objects in the group to provide extreme details. This is because the composition and surface of space rocks have many variations. The results of the work can provide more details about the appearance of planets and the formation of the Solar System.

“As we built the instrument, the L’TES team relied on other of our projects, fabrications and operations on similarly-issued thermal emission spectrometers, such as OSIRIS-REx and Mars Global Surveyor,” said Phil Christensen, scientist responsible for equipment, in an agency statement.

“Each instrument has its own challenges, but based on our experience, we hope that L’TES will provide us with excellent data, as well as some surprises about these enigmatic objects”, he added.

Despite the pandemic hindering the progress of the project, the mission is scheduled for October this year, as originally planned. “I am constantly impressed by the team’s agility and flexibility to deal with any challenges facing them,” commented Hal Levison, the initiative’s leader.

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