Lucy and Psyche Asteroid Missions | The Planetary Society
. Incomplete list of asteroids larger than about 50 m ( ft) predicted to pass close to Earth (see also Asteroid impact prediction and Sentry Risk Table): ( approximate), Date of closest approach. Mission management and engineers checked in on spacecraft status, timeline of observation plans and Earth communication dates and simulated . to shoot the interstellar asteroid with Hubble and to perform astrometry. Dates for key events in the Lucy and Psyche missions: by spacecraft. The planned orbits and asteroid encounters for the Lucy mission. SwRI.
Instead, it's NASA's first planetary-defense mission.
Humanity Will Slam a Spacecraft into an Asteroid in a Few Years to Help Save Us All
Slam into an asteroid hard enough while it's sufficiently far away from Earth, and you can bump it off course. But if you've never slammed into an asteroid before, it's difficult to know precisely the best way to do it. And that's where DART comes in. Its target isn't a threat to Earth, but by studying it carefully and then colliding with itChabot and the rest of the DART team will create the data humans will need if they ever want to redirect a truly threatening asteroid.
Scientists hope those samples will help them understand the solar system's earliest days. It's a binary asteroid, which means DART can slam into the smaller object of the pair. But scientists can gather robust data about the bodies and their locations from Earth, which will help them track where to target the car-size spacecraft as well as how much the collision knocked the object off course. We kind of take for granted that we know where everything is at all times.
We understand where the system is as a whole, but specifically where that moon's gonna be [requires tracking] because we want to try to hit it head-on. NASA Then, there's the impact itself, with the spacecraft slamming itself into the space rock at a speed of nearly 13, mph 6 kilometers per second. Important objects for study: Mars, the Moon, Trojans, Venus, asteroids, and comets.
Data from these instruments will provide information on the processes that shaped these worlds, their composition, and physical properties of the surface material such as the average size of particles. The creativity behind the Lucy mission is that its proposers found a trajectory that over 12 years encounters seven asteroids two in a binary system.
The Lucy mission will encounter its targets using two large solar orbits that take it out to the orbit of Jupiter to encounter the Trojan swarms. In the first of these orbits, it will fly by a tiny main belt asteroid DonaldJohanson, named after the paleontologist who led the team that found the Lucy fossil and then four diverse asteroids in the Greek population. The next orbit takes it into the Trojan population for a single encounter with a binary asteroid system whose characteristics are similar to those of comets suggesting they may be refugees from the distant outer solar system.
After this second long orbit, the spacecraft should have sufficient fuel for further encounters with main belt and Trojan asteroids in a third orbit if NASA approves funding for an extended mission. Each of these extended orbits appear to take approximately six years, so any encounters from an extended mission seem likely to occur in the late s.
The Lucy mission will study a variety of asteroids through brief, but intense flybys. It will be something like photographing boulders along the roadside while speeding by on a freeway for later analysis. The second Discovery mission selected, by comparison, will be like parking your car next to one especially intriguing boulder for a nearly yearlong examination. The single destination for the Psyche spacecraft will be the relatively large asteroid of the same name. This world is the largest of the rare type M metallic asteroids.
Psyche could be unique remnant of a class of asteroids that formed so close to the sun that only metals could condense out of the early solar nebula and was later flung into the main belt of the asteroids. Or it could be the inner, metallic core of a once larger protoplanet that had its overlying layers of rock and possibly ice blasted off by impacts with other asteroids. If the silicates are all primitive chondritic material, then they were likely added as later impacts, and Psyche may have started life as a highly reduced metallic body without a significant silicate mantle, or, the nature of impact flux and its consequences are far more significant than our current models indicate.
Comet chaser has close encounter with asteroid
Its original surface will have been battered by numerous impacts over the subsequent billions of years. The hydrated materials recently discovered on its surface with telescopic studies, for example, are likely to have been delivered by impacts of other asteroids. The cameras on the spacecraft near copies of the cameras that the Mars rover will carry will be tasked with taking the images that will allow geologists to reconstruct its history.
By comparison, Vesta is at 2. To reach this world, the Psyche spacecraft, like the Dawn spacecraft that has explored Vesta and Ceres, will use solar electric propulsion to slowly but methodically reach its namesake world. The gentle thrust of its engines will deliver the spacecraft to Psyche approximately seven years after launch and will allow it to spiral down to progressively lower orbits. For the team proposing this mission, this is the third time it has vied for selection.
List of asteroid close approaches to Earth - Wikipedia
It was originally proposed in and not selected as a finalist and reproposed in when it was awarded funding to mature the technology of its sensors. If the mission eventually is funded by NASA, it would have two goals.
The first would be oriented toward protecting our planet by discovering a large number of the small from a few tens of meters across up to a kilometernear Earth asteroids that have evaded detection by other means.
The second goal would be more scientifically oriented with the NEOCam telescope expected to also observe more than a million main belt asteroids and about a thousand new comets.