NASA has announced two new missions of discovery attempting to investigate some mysterious asteroids on low-cost, planetary operations.
NASA has targeted with its Discovery Program two projects dubbed Lucy and Psyche, and they fund concentrated space operations to various destinations in the solar system.The Psyche project journeys to an asteroid belt to examine one massive, metallic asteroid named 16 Psyche.Project Lucy investigates the Trojan asteroids, which share Jupiter's orbit.
The associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate based in Washington, D.C., Thomas Zurbuchen, said in a statement on the subject, "This is what Discovery Program missions are all about—boldly going places we've never been to enable groundbreaking science."
Project Lucy is set to launch in October of 2021, and if all goes well, the probe is expected to visit an asteroid within the main belt, which is positioned between Jupiter and Mars.The latter leg of the operation would occur in 2025, and it would segue into studying six Trojan asteroids in as many years from 2027 to 2033, according to NASA officials.
"This is a unique opportunity," said Harold Levison, Lucy principal investigator. "Because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system."
Project Psyche aims to explore arguably the most bizarre object in the solar system, which is a metallic asteroid spanning 130 miles in width thought to possibly be the core of an ancient, Mars-sized planet.
Psyche principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University said, "This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world—not one of rock or ice, but of metal."
Photograph taken in 1997 by the NEAR Shoemaker probe/ Wikipedia