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San Antonio Tech to Explore Ancient Asteroids

San Antonio Tech to Explore Ancient Asteroids”

Canada's MDA to supply NASA with spacecraft platform for asteroid mission. The asteroid is very thick having 200 to 450 pounds per cubic foot, that's more than several other asteroids.

NASA says the spacecraft is expected to be launched in 2023, pass by Mars two years later, and arrive at Psyche in 2030.

The Lucy mission will head towards Jupiter to study an area of space objects near it, known as "The Trojans".

Scientists discovered that Trojan asteroids have different characteristics depending on their location on the solar system before they moved into Jupiter.

"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", he explained.

The mission is led by Principal Investigator Dr. Harold Levison of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

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Lockheed Martin has been selected to design, build and operate the spacecraft for NASA's Lucy mission. Unlike most other asteroids, 16 Psyche is believed to comprise of metallic iron and nickel, much like Earth's core, Nasa said. "16 Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the solar system, and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core". The object could have lost its rocky outer shell because of large, violent impacts that occurred in the past. Scientists believe Psyche, one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, may be the exposed metal core of an early planet, the soul of a celestial body.

"We can not directly image what's going on near objects like black holes and neutron stars, but studying the polarization of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments reveals the physics of these enigmatic objects", said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Lucy will build on the success of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, using newer versions of the RALPH and LORRI science instruments that helped enable the mission's achievements. The Juno mission is now studying the planet; Lockheed Martin in Colorado also built that spacecraft. "We learn about inner space by visiting outer space".

Nasa noted that these Discovery Programme missions are "relatively low-cost" with development capped at around $450m (£365m).

The Discovery Program portfolio includes 12 prior selections such as the MESSENGER mission to study Mercury, the Dawn mission to explore asteroids Vesta and Ceres, and the InSight Mars lander, scheduled to launch in May 2018. It will be orbiting around the mysterious asteroid belts of the solar system.



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