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NASA launches longest mission to explore distant asteroids

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-10-16 18:28

The capsule with NASA's Lucy spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket for a mission to study the Trojan asteroids in the outer solar system, stands at Pad-41 in preparation for launch at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US October 15, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched its Lucy spacecraft on Saturday on a 12-year journey to explore Jupiter's Trojan asteroids.

Lucy was launched at 5:34 a.m. Eastern Time (0934 GMT) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

During its 12-year primary mission, Lucy will explore a record-breaking number of asteroids, flying by one main belt asteroid, and seven Trojans.

Lucy is the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids, and also NASA's longest mission lasting for 12 years.

Trojans are small bodies that are remnants of early solar systems. They orbit the Sun in two loose groups, with one group leading ahead of Jupiter in its orbit, and the other trailing behind.

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