Nasa’s Lucy rockets into the sky with diamonds to explore asteroids

Lucy, a Nasa spacecraft called Lucy, has reached the heavens with diamonds after a 12-year mission to discover eight asteroids.
Seven of these mysterious space rocks can be found among the swarms that orbit Jupiter's orbit. They are thought to be leftovers from planetary formation.

On Saturday morning, an Atlas V rocket launched. Lucy was sent on a circular orbital journey that covered nearly 4bn mile (6.3bn km) Robert Cabana (Nasas associate administrator) said that he was just thrilled after liftoff. This is the coolest darn task.

Lucy was named after the 3.2m year-old bones of an Ethiopian ancestor. The discovery was named after the 1967 Beatles song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Nasa sent the spacecraft to the sky with lyrics from the band and other luminaries' words of wisdom on a plaque. For one of its science instruments, the spacecraft carried a disc of lab-grown diamonds.

Ringo Starr, the Beatles drummer, made a tribute to John Lennon in a prerecorded video that Nasa recorded.

Lucy will be flying back to the sky with diamonds. Starr assured Johnny that he would love it. Lucy, I wish you peace and love if you ever meet someone up there.

00:31 "Johnny'll Love That": Ringo Starr wishes Nasa Lucy a successful mission video

Donald Johanson was the paleoanthropologist who discovered the Lucy remains. He said that he was astonished at the intersection of our past and present.

Johanson, an Arizona tate University student, was excited that a distant human ancestor could be used to stimulate a mission that will add valuable information on the formation of the solar system. He traveled to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for the launch.

Lucy's $981m (715m), mission is the first to target Jupiters Trojan entourage. This group includes thousands, if not millions, of asteroids orbiting the sun. While some of the Trojan asteroids are ahead of Jupiter's orbit, others are behind it.

The Trojans orbit far away from Earth and are scattered far apart from one another, despite their proximity. According to Hal Levison of Southwest Research Institutes, the principal scientist for the missions, there is virtually no chance that Lucy will be engulfed by one while it passes its targets.

Lucy will fly past Earth in October 2024 and again in 2024, to gain enough gravitational power to reach Jupiter's orbit. The spacecraft will pass Donaldjohanson, an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, on its way to Jupiter. This rock, appropriately named, will be used as a warm-up act for science instruments in 2025.

Lucy will use power from two large circular solar wings to chase down five asteroids belonging to the Trojan leader pack in the 2020s. The spacecraft will then return to Earth in 2030 for another gravity assistance. This will allow it to swing back out towards the Trojan cluster that is trailing it, where it will pass the last two targets in 2033.

Lucy will travel within 600 miles of each target. The largest is approximately 70 miles.

Are there mountains? Are there valleys? Pits? Mesas? Who knows? I'm sure we will be amazed, stated Hal Weaver, a Johns Hopkins University professor who manages Lucys black-and white camera. We can't wait to see the... images that will reveal more about the fossils created by the solar system.