Lockheed to Build Asteroid Exploration Spacecraft for a NASA Discovery Program Mission

The Lucy mission will head towards Jupiter in 2021

The Lucy mission will head towards Jupiter in 2021

The Lucy mission will head towards Jupiter to study an area of space objects near it, known as "The Trojans".

San Antonio technology is headed into orbit.

NASA will send two spacecraft to explore asteroids in the hopes of revealing new information about the solar system's origins.

NASA scientists will ultimately use the collected data to better understand how the universe began. In all, Lucy will study six Trojans and one main belt asteroid.

"Trojans hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system", says Harold Levison, principal investigator of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Scientists discovered that Trojan asteroids have different characteristics depending on their location on the solar system before they moved into Jupiter.

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The mission will help scientists understand how planets and other bodies separated into their layers - including cores, mantles and crusts - early in their histories.

Believed to have once been the liquid metallic core of a planet about the size of Mars, 16 Psyche has a diameter of more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) and seems to be mostly made up of iron and nickel-with a surface possibly bearing volatiles like water or hydroxyl, according to observations from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. The NEOCam space telescope is created to survey regions of space closest to Earth's orbit, where potentially hazardous asteroids may be found. "This is what Discovery Program missions are all about-boldly going to places we've never been to enable groundbreaking science", Zurbuchen added. It will explore what could be the exposed core of an early, now-vanished planet.

The platform will come equipped with a high-power solar electric propulsion system, while the mission is expected to launch sometime in the 2020s.

"This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world - not one of rock or ice, but of metal", said Psyche Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe. "We learn about inner space by visiting outer space".

On the other hand, another NASA mission, the Psyche probe is set to study the 16 Psyche.

"The design of the spacecraft draws from the flight-proven [Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer] spacecraft now on its way to a near-Earth asteroid", said Guy Beutelschies, director of interplanetary systems at Lockheed's space systems business. The program has a development cost cap of about $450 million. It will be launched in 2023 and reach its destination by 2030. "These are true missions of discovery that integrate into NASA's larger strategy of investigating how the Solar System formed and evolved", said Jim Green, Planetary Science director at NASA.