Image by Nasa
On November 1, 2023, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft completed its first flyby of an asteroid, named Dinkinesh. The flyby was a success, and Lucy is now on its way to visit nine more asteroids in the next 12 years.
Lucy is the first spacecraft to visit the Trojan asteroids, a group of asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. The Trojans are believed to be some of the oldest and most primitive objects in the solar system, and Lucy hopes to learn more about their composition, formation, and evolution.
During the flyby, Lucy’s instruments collected data on Dinkinesh’s size, shape, and surface composition. The spacecraft also took images of the asteroid, which scientists will use to study its features in more detail.
“This flyby is a tremendous milestone for the Lucy mission,” said Hal Levison, Lucy’s principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “It’s the first time a spacecraft has visited a Trojan asteroid, and it’s a major step forward in our understanding of these mysterious objects.“
The Lucy spacecraft is named after the fossilized skeleton of a human ancestor that was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The Lucy skeleton is one of the oldest and most complete human ancestor skeletons ever found, and it has helped scientists to learn more about the evolution of our species.
The Lucy spacecraft is expected to complete its mission in 2033. During that time, it will visit nine Trojan asteroids, including the largest, Eurybates. Lucy will also flyby two asteroids in the main asteroid belt.
The Lucy mission is a joint effort between NASA, the Southwest Research Institute, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems. The mission is funded by NASA’s Planetary Sciences Division.
Why is neptune denser than saturn?
Neptune is denser than Saturn because it has a higher proportion of heavy elements in its core. Neptune’s core is made up of about 30% rock and metal, while Saturn’s core is made up of about 15% rock and metal. The higher proportion of heavy elements in Neptune’s core makes it more dense than Saturn.
Neptune and Saturn are both gas giants, but they have different compositions. Neptune has a higher proportion of hydrogen and helium in its atmosphere, while Saturn has a higher proportion of methane and ammonia. The different compositions of their atmospheres also contribute to their different densities.
Neptune is also colder than Saturn. The cold temperatures on Neptune allow the heavier elements in its atmosphere to sink to the core, making it more dense. Saturn, on the other hand, is warmer, which prevents the heavier elements in its atmosphere from sinking to the core.
As a result of these factors, Neptune is denser than Saturn.
Here is a table comparing the densities of Neptune and Saturn:
| Planet | Density (g/cm³) | |—|—|—| | Neptune | 1.64 | | Saturn | 0.69 |
NASA’s Lucy Mission to Study Trojan Asteroids
The Lucy mission is a NASA space mission that launched in October 2021. It is the first mission to study the Trojan asteroids, a group of asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun.
The mission is named after Lucy, the fossilized skeleton of a human ancestor that was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. The Lucy skeleton is one of the oldest and most complete human ancestor skeletons ever found, and it has helped scientists to learn more about the evolution of our species.
The Lucy mission is expected to complete its mission in 2033. During that time, it will visit nine Trojan asteroids, including the largest, Eurybates. Lucy will also flyby two asteroids in the main asteroid belt.
The mission’s goals are to:
- Learn more about the composition, formation, and evolution of the Trojan asteroids.
- Study the relationship between the Trojan asteroids and Jupiter.
- Explore the diversity of small bodies in the solar system.
The Lucy spacecraft is equipped with a variety of instruments that will help it to achieve its goals. These instruments include:
- A Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS): This instrument will map the surface composition of the Trojan asteroids.
- A Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES): This instrument will measure the temperature and composition of the Trojan asteroids’ atmospheres.
- A Near-Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec): This instrument will study the mineralogy of the Trojan asteroids.
- A Tracking Telescope (TT): This telescope will be used to track the Lucy spacecraft and its targets.
The Lucy mission is a major step forward in our understanding of the solar system. By studying the Trojan asteroids, scientists hope to learn more about the formation and evolution of our planet and its inhabitants.
Which moon has the most substantial atmosphere?
Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has the most substantial atmosphere in our solar system. It is thicker and denser than Earth’s atmosphere, and it is composed mostly of nitrogen and methane.
What is the cassini division of saturn’s rings?
The Cassini Division is a large gap between Saturn’s A and B rings. It is caused by the gravitational pull of Saturn’s moon Mimas. The gap is about 4,800 kilometers wide and is named after astronomer Giovanni Cassini, who discovered it in 1675.
Apophis is a near-Earth asteroid (NEA), which means that its orbit around the Sun brings it within 1.3 times the distance between the Sun and Earth. It was discovered in 2004 and was initially thought to have a 2.7% chance of hitting Earth in 2029. However, additional observations have shown that it will not hit Earth in 2029 or in 2036.
Apophis is a classified S-type, or stony-type asteroid made up of silicate (or rocky) materials and a mixture of metallic nickel and iron. Radar images suggest it is elongated and possibly has two lobes, making it look something like a peanut. It has a diameter of about 370 meters (1,210 feet) and a mass of about 26.99 billion kilograms.
Apophis is named after the ancient Egyptian demon of chaos and destruction. It is one of the largest NEAs known to exist, and its close approach to Earth in 2029 has made it a focus of scientific and public attention.
Apophis’s Close Approach to Earth in 2029
On April 13, 2029, Apophis will pass within 30,600 kilometers (19,000 miles) of Earth. This is closer than the distance of geosynchronous satellites, which orbit Earth at an altitude of 35,786 kilometers (22,236 miles). Apophis will be visible to the naked eye from some parts of the world during its close approach.
Scientific Significance of Apophis
Apophis’s close approach to Earth in 2029 provides a unique opportunity for scientists to study a large NEA at close range. Radar observations of Apophis will provide information about its shape, size, composition, and rotation. This information will help scientists to better understand NEAs and their potential threat to Earth.
Apophis is a large NEA that will pass close to Earth in 2029. While it is not currently thought to be a threat to Earth, it is an important object to study because it can help us to better understand NEAs and their potential threat to our planet.