The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Lucy spacecraft has captured a jaw-dropping image of the Earth and the Moon. The image was taken on October 13, 2022, as per NASA’s website. Lucy is the first mission to explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. According to NASA, Trojan asteroids are the ones that orbit the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter.
The photo was taken with the Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM) system of Lucy. It is a pair of identical cameras that are responsible for tracking the asteroids during the spacecraft’s high-speed encounters. Malin Space Science Systems designed, built, and tested the T2CAM system, and Lockheed Martin integrated the T2CAMs onto the spacecraft. It also operates them. The image was taken as the spacecraft approached Earth for its first of three Earth gravity assists.
It is a 12-year journey!
Lucy is on a 12-year voyage and will fly by a record-breaking number of asteroids and survey their diversity. It will look for clues to better understand the formation of our solar system.
On 4th January, 2017, Lucy was chosen for NASA’s Discovery Program mission. NASA’s mission is named after the Lucy hominin fossils because analysis of the trojans could reveal the fossils of planet formation.
On 16 October 2021, Lucy was launched from Cape Canaveral SLC-41 on the 401 variant of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle. On the 16th of October, 2022, it gained one gravity assist from Earth.