Even with the Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic is wreaking havoc and leaving the whole world to its knees, experts over at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are still hard at work – trying their earnest to deliver upon the duty they are entrusted upon.
Workers over at the space agency toil night and day to be able to at least deliver to the committed timelines as much as they can to continuously set forth the conquest for scientific discovery and knowledge. One of the missions that the agency is tasked at the moment and is still on the green light is the asteroid mission spacecraft named Lucy.
Its primary mission is to document and fetch important details regarding the asteroid belt lying near the gas giant Jupiter, in particular, the Trojan group of asteroids is its primary target. Originally targeted for launch in October next year, the people working on the project are optimistic that despite the situation right now with COVID-19, they’ll be able to set forth and continue assembling the craft itself.
Things have been running smoothly for the craft and its assembly team. One achievement it has under its belt is passing an important stage in NASA’s projects known as Key Decision Point-D or KDP-D just recently. This served as a go signal for them to carry on with the crafts assembly. According to a report by Meghan Bartels on Space.com, Lucy’s schedules are still on track. The team is expecting to receive important instruments that will be used in its assembly next month. Also, it will soon undergo another test called Mission Operation Review – again, another crucial stage during the project’s development that is part of NASA’s overall standard operating procedures (SOP).
Lucy’s project manager, Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, is optimistic and is happy with the progress of the project. She shared in Bartels’ article her thoughts, saying that the team’s perseverance all throughout this whole ordeal, considering all the challenges they were confronted with along the way, inspires her.
Lucy will still need to undergo a lot of stages before its launch – from the assembly to the last rounds of finishing touches before preparing for takeoff. Bartels shares that the space agency will do last-minute preparations on the craft in July – a few months before its scheduled takeoff.
The asteroid mission will look into the Trojan cluster of asteroids near Jupiter. These asteroids, dubbed as the Jupiter Trojans, share the giant planet’s orbit around the Sun. Lucy will conduct a series of fly-by encounters to be able to observe these asteroids which are seen by specialists as special ‘fossils’ that will explain how they and cosmic objects nearby were formed.