Lucy is an asteroid rover that NASA is scheduled to launch in October 2021. Lucy’s target is a cluster of asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit called the Trojan object.
According to NASA, two Trojan objects orbit the Sun, leading or chasing Jupiter. Lucy will encircle seven Trojan asteroids over 12 years, two of which are binary stars. It is expected to be able to learn about the universe around the time the solar system was formed, covering all three asteroid types C, P, and D that make up the Trojan object.
Asteroids are thought to have survived the planet’s formation around the time the solar system was formed. As many of the planets collided and coalesced, they gradually grew into protoplanets, but the material left behind is now an asteroid, which mainly surrounds the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are like time capsules sent from the so-called primordial solar system. Knowing the identity of asteroids is expected to lead to knowledge about the proto-solar system and the birth of life.
Interestingly, it is said that this time Lucy itself will also act as a time capsule. Lucy has recently been equipped with a time capsule for the future humanity. In addition to inserting messages from Nobel Prize winners and celebrities such as musicians, poets, and writers, it also includes a picture recording the positions of celestial bodies in the solar system, scheduled for release on October 16, 2021.
Although Pioneer 10 and Voyager 1 and 2 also contained messages, these probes are all heading out of the solar system and into outer space. On the other hand, Lucy, who stays in the solar system, carries a message for the future earthlings, not us. It is to convey knowledge to new intelligent life forms that may be born on Earth even if the human race is now extinct.
Of course, it is questionable whether future intelligent life will be able to decipher the message, but it is said that it contains the words of writers and poets, Beatles and Queen guitarist Brian May, in addition to knowledge led by Martin Luther King, Einstein and Carl Sagan. . The content of the message is said to be about love and hope, cultural memory, or even a reflection on eternity. More information is available in English on the Lucy website.
The Lucy mission will end in 2033, but it will continue to orbit the solar system semi-permanently without being retrieved by NASA. As long as there is gas, it will orbit the universe for hundreds or thousands of years. Related information can be found here.