Large asteroids to fly past Earth starting tonight; NASA’s Lucy mission of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, launched today
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New York/Canadian-Media: The coming weeks would see several large asteroids pass closely by Earth, media reports said.
Asteroids. Image credit: NASA.wsu.edu
According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, the first asteroid 525-foot wide 2021 SM3 will whiz past Earth on Oct 15. Before the end of Nov, seven larger asteroids are predicted to pass close by Earth, the biggest of which, 2004 UE, has a diameter of 1,246 feet. On Oct 22, asteroid 1996 VB3 at 2.1 million miles, will pass closest to Earth
Scientists say that none of the asteroids although very close by interstellar standards will be visible without a telescope.
NASA’s Lucy mission, the agency’s first to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, launched at 5:34 a.m. EDT Saturday on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen in this 2 minute and 30-second exposure photograph as it launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to study Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids. Like the mission’s namesake — the fossilized human ancestor, “Lucy,” whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution — Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system. Image Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Over the next 12 years, Lucy will fly by one main-belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids, making it the agency’s first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids. Lucy will investigate these “fossils” of planetary formation up close during its journey.
“Lucy embodies NASA’s enduring quest to push out into the cosmos for the sake of exploration and science, to better understand the universe and our place within it,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “I can’t wait to see what mysteries the mission uncovers!”