What a Beatles song has to do with the new NASA mission

With the NASA probe “Lucy”, a spacecraft set off for the asteroids of Jupiter for the first time. Nasa happily tweeted shortly after the start: “Lucy in the sky!”

The name of the probe is taken from the Beatles song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. It is said to have boomed from a cassette recorder when researchers discovered parts of the skeleton of a pre-human female in the Ethiopian Afar Triangle in 1974. The discovery proved for the first time that the forerunners of today’s humans could walk upright around three million years ago.

Special name, special mission

The fossil – and now the NASA probe as well – was nicknamed “Lucy”. According to NASA, the reason is simple: “Just as the” Lucy “fossil provided unique insights into human development, the” Lucy “mission promises to revolutionize our knowledge of the formation of planets and the solar system.”

Where “Lucy” is now

About 90 minutes after take-off, the 14-meter-long probe unfolded its seven-meter-long solar sails, which were used to recharge the spaceship’s batteries. At the moment, “Lucy” is on a flight path around the sun at around 108,000 kilometers per hour in order to use the gravity of the celestial bodies on the way to Jupiter.

The Jupiter Trojans are asteroids that orbit the sun in the same orbit as Jupiter – a swarm rushes ahead of it, one follows it. They are considered “fossils of the formation of the planets”, which is why NASA hopes that the mission will provide new insights into the formation of the planets and our solar system.


In addition, “Lucy” will also fly close to an asteroid in the so-called main belt between Mars and Jupiter’s orbits and – also as the first probe in the history of space travel – to return three times to the vicinity of the earth in order to get support from its gravity for its flight to get. The first asteroid flyby is scheduled for 2025, with the others scheduled for between 2027 and 2033.

The mission is scheduled to run for twelve years, and “Lucy” is expected to cover a total of 6.5 billion kilometers.

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