NASA set to explore the “fossils” of the Solar System with Lucy

Atlas V with the Lucy spacecraft aboard at SLC-41 on the morning of October 15 as media set their sound-activated remote cameras.

Enlarge / Atlas V with the Lucy spacecraft aboard at SLC-41 on the morning of October 15 as media set their sound-activated remote cameras. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann)

Less than five years have gone by since NASA selected the “Lucy” mission for development as part of its Discovery Mission program, and now the intriguing spacecraft is ready for launch.

The $981 million mission will fly an extremely complex trajectory over the span of a dozen years. The spacecraft will swing by Earth a total of three times for gravitational assists as it visits a main-belt asteroid, 52246 Donaldjohanson, and subsequently flies by eight Trojan asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun.

The Lucy mission is scheduled to launch on Saturday at 5:34 am ET (09:34 UTC) from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. An Atlas V rocket carrying the 1.5-ton spacecraft rolled to the launch pad on Thursday in advance of the launch attempt. The weather looks fine Saturday morning, with a 90 percent chance of favorable conditions. The launch will be covered live on NASA TV.

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