In addition to its 67 moons, Jupiter is accompanied by two giant clusters of asteroids that orbit the sun along the same path, and is packed with as many large objects as the Asteroid Belt. Yesterday, NASA announced a new mission to investigate these “trojan” asteroids. Here’s what you need to know about this exciting new project.
NASA announced two new space missions yesterday as part of its Discovery Program. Named Psyche and Lucy, these projects will deploy spacecraft to investigate asteroids, but the missions themselves are quite distinct. The Psyche space probe will visit a giant metal asteroid in 2030, and Lucy will investigate a half-dozen Trojan asteroids along Jupiter’s orbital plane from 2027 to 2033. By exploring the Jovian Trojans, scientists will gain a better understanding of these objects and how they got caught in Jupiter’s gravitational field, while also learning more about the chemical composition of the early solar system.