NASA Headquarters Photographers Pick Their Best - Nasa daily picture for January 04 (2022)

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Lucy Mission Prelaunch

This image is one of 100 chosen by the photographers at NASA Headquarters as one of their top images of 2021. See them all.

In this image, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with the Lucy spacecraft aboard is seen at Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to study Jupiter's Trojan Asteroids. Like the mission's namesake – the fossilized human ancestor, "Lucy," whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity's evolution – the mission will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system. Lucy, which will be the first space mission to study the Trojans, launched on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. 

Time capsules from the birth of our solar system more than 4 billion years ago, the swarms of Trojan asteroids associated with Jupiter are thought to be remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets. The Trojans orbit the Sun in two loose groups, with one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other trailing behind. Clustered around the two Lagrange points equidistant from the Sun and Jupiter, the Trojans are stabilized by the Sun and its largest planet in a gravitational balancing act. These primitive bodies hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls



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