Nasa prepares to launch Lucy mission to distant asteroids

Nasa is preparing to launch the Lucy mission Saturday, a mission that could transform our understanding of the origins of planets and the formation the solar system.
From Cape Canaveral in Florida, a space probe will fly atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 Rocket.

The mission will be looking for the Trojans, a distant population of asteroids. These primitive bodies orbit Jupiter and are a result of the formation our solar system.

They are believed to have originated from all parts of the solar system, and thus preserve a record about the conditions that existed 4.6 billion years ago when Earth formed and other planets.

Jupiter's powerful gravity has held them in place like flypaper for a long time. There are two swarms, one preceding and the other following the planet.

Six years will be required to travel to the Trojans. Lucy will make two gravitational assistance manoeuvres back to Earth once it is in space. These will increase the orbit's energy and lift it into the preceding Swarm. It will then encounter four Trojans in the 2027-28 period. En route, it will pass by a main belt-asteroid in 2025.

Lucy will return home before flying into the next swarm in order to pass one more Trojan in 2033. The spacecraft will cycle between the two Trojan swarms approximately every six years.