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We Love Lucy – Four Questions With NASA Mission Manager Sherry Jennings

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft with its photo voltaic arrays deployed. Credit score: NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle

NASA is getting ready to launch a brand new spacecraft on a quest to unlock the mysteries of our Photo voltaic System’s formation. Named for the fossilized human ancestor, Lucy would be the first mission to check the Trojan asteroids related to, however not near, Jupiter. Lucy is scheduled to launch no sooner than Saturday, October 16, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from House Launch Complicated-41 on Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station in Florida.

Simply because the mission’s namesake offered perception into humanity’s evolution, the Lucy mission might revolutionize our data of planetary origins and the formation of the photo voltaic system. Throughout its 12-year journey, Lucy will go to a record-breaking eight totally different asteroids — a Principal Belt asteroid and 7 Trojans which are believed to be remnants from the formation of the outer planets.

Sherry Jennings, mission supervisor for the Lucy mission, poses subsequent to a mannequin of the Lucy spacecraft. Lucy would be the first mission to check the Trojan asteroids, two clusters of asteroids that would maintain the important thing to unlocking a lot of our photo voltaic system’s historical past. Credit score: NASA/Sherry Jennings

Sherry Jennings, mission supervisor at Marshall for Lucy, sat down with us this week to reply a number of questions concerning the mission.

What’s probably the most thrilling factor concerning the Lucy mission to you?

Trojan asteroids have witnessed first-hand the historical past of the outer photo voltaic system. Thus, they current us with a singular alternative to raised perceive planet formation and photo voltaic system evolution. These primitive our bodies maintain very important clues to deciphering the historical past of the photo voltaic system.

What are the science devices on the spacecraft and what knowledge will we count on?

Lucy hosts three scientific devices that may collect knowledge to assist scientists unlock the mysteries of planet and photo voltaic system formation.

Lucy Thermal Emissions Spectrometer (L’TES), a model of which is at present flying on the OSIRIS-REx mission, will research the thermal surroundings of the Trojan surfaces, leading to a greater understanding of the bodily properties of the regolith similar to grain sizes and subsurface layering.

L’Ralph, much like devices at present flying on the New Horizons and OSIRIS-REX missions, is the mixture of a Multi-spectral Seen Digicam (MVIC) and an infrared imaging spectrometer use to search for ice and organics and can be figuring out the mineral make-up of the asteroids.

Lengthy Vary Reconnaissance Imager (L’LORRI), will present detailed pictures of the floor of the Trojans. L’LORRI is a clone of the New Horizons instrument which was used to seize the long-lasting pictures of the New Horizons Pluto flyby and will produce pictures of the Trojans that may assist scientists in understanding the geological options and crater counts – aiding with figuring out the age of the Trojans.

What’s your favourite factor about your job and dealing this mission?

As a mission supervisor on the Lucy mission, I’m answerable for ensuring the mission group has the sources they have to be profitable. Having the privilege of being part of a group that hopes to provide scientific discoveries that change or enhance our understanding of the evolution of our photo voltaic system evokes me.

I’m grateful to have labored on such an bold mission with a group of proficient folks from throughout this nation. This group has persevered and maintained a “can do” angle by way of challenges of integrating and testing {hardware} throughout a worldwide pandemic, together with quite a few and important technical challenges. It will likely be bittersweet when Lucy launches. I’ll miss working with this group, however I’m very excited to see the superb discoveries that end result from the Lucy mission. 

What does the Planetary Missions Workplace at Marshall do? How does this assist missions like Lucy?

Our workplace manages the Discovery, New Frontiers, and Photo voltaic System Exploration packages with missions that discover the inside planets, outer planets, the moon, asteroids, comets, and even targets past our photo voltaic system. We not too long ago added lunar devices that fly on the Business Lunar Payload Companies landers to our portfolio. Our purpose is to reinforce the likelihood of mission success of by offering technical oversight in addition to specialised assist as wanted.

We are a fast-paced group and the event of our tasks from the preliminary design evaluation to launch averages solely 39 months. Lucy is the primary of three launches for our workplace in lower than a 12 months.

For Lucy, we’ve labored along with the mission group each step of the best way by way of growth guaranteeing availability of any further sources required to maneuver as a result of pandemic.

Lucy is a Discovery Mission managed by the Planetary Missions Program Workplace at NASA’s Marshall House Flight Middle in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Planetary Science Division. The mission is led by the Principal Investigator from the Boulder, Colorado workplace of Southwest Analysis Institute. NASA Goddard House Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the first NASA heart for Lucy, offering total mission administration, programs engineering, and security and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin House in Denver constructed the spacecraft. KinetX in Simi Valley, California, gives mission navigation. Launch operations can be performed by NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida.

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