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Swarms of mysterious Trojan asteroids were photographed by NASA’s Lucy spacecraft 

Published Apr 17th, 2023 9:08PM EDT
NASA Lucy probe traveling through Trojan asteroids
Image: Naeblys / Adobe

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NASA’s Lucy spacecraft is still millions of miles from its destination, where it will study the Trojan asteroids. Despite that distance, the Lucy mission has captured a first glimpse of these mysterious asteroids in a new video, which NASA shared on Twitter.

The Trojan asteroids are some of the more mysterious asteroids that humanity has discovered. These asteroids are made up of two swarms, trapped both in front of and behind Jupiter as it orbits our star. Lucy will study the Trojan asteroids to discover if they are, in fact, relics of our early solar system.

The belief is that learning more about the Trojans will help us learn more about how the planets within our solar system formed. It could even help us decipher where life on Earth originated from, by providing evidence that points towards life-delivering asteroids in these two swarms.

Of course, Lucy has to get there first. Despite Lucy launching in 2021 and traveling through the universe at over 90,000 mph, Lucy won’t reach the Trojan asteroids until 2027 and 2028. The spacecraft will capture information about the swarms as it completes multiple flybys.

The primary goal of the Lucy mission is to study nine of the Trojan asteroids throughout a 12-year-long mission. Most of the mission time will be taken up by space travel as Lucy loops between the different swarms of Trojans found in our solar system.

In most cases, the spacecraft will only study each asteroid for around 24 hours, NASA explained to Mashable. The spacecraft won’t stop for samples or anything, so we will have to go by the videos and photos that Lucy returns of the Trojans.

Still, this will at least give us a close-up view of these mysterious asteroids and could lay the groundwork for future missions to dig deeper to learn more about where these asteroids came from and if the Trojans are remnants of our early solar system.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.