Solar System: Things to Know This Week

We love Lucy—our spacecraft that will visit the ancient Trojan asteroids near Jupiter, that is. This week, let us count the ways this 2021 mission could revolutionize what we know about the origins of Earth and ourselves.

1. Lucky Lucy 

Earlier this year, we selected the Lucy mission to make the first-ever visit to a group of asteroids known as the Trojans. This swarm of asteroids orbits in two loose groups around the Sun, with one group always ahead of Jupiter in its path, and the other always behind. The bodies are stabilized by the Sun and Jupiter in a gravitational balancing act, gathering in locations known as Lagrange points.

2. Old. Really, Really Old

Jupiter’s swarms of Trojan asteroids may be remnants of the material that formed our outer planets more than 4 billion years ago—so these fossils may help reveal our most distant origins. “They hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system,” said Dr. Harold F. Levison, Lucy principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

3. A Link to The Beatles

Lucy takes its name from the fossilized human ancestor, called “Lucy” by her discoverers, whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution. On the night it was discovered in 1974, the team’s celebration included dancing and singing to The Beatles’ song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” At some point during that evening, expedition member Pamela Alderman named the skeleton “Lucy,” and the name stuck. Jump ahead to 2013 and the mission’s principal investigator, Dr. Levison, was inspired by that link to our beginnings to name the spacecraft after Lucy the fossil. The connection to The Beatles’ song was just icing on the cake.

4. Travel Itinerary

One of two missions selected in a highly competitive process, Lucy will launch in October 2021. With boosts from Earth’s gravity, it will complete a 12-year journey to seven different asteroids: a Main Belt asteroid and six Trojans.

5. Making History

No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around the Sun. Lucy will show us, for the first time, the diversity of the primordial bodies that built the planets.

6. What Lies Beneath 

Lucy’s complex path will take it to both clusters of Trojans and give us our first close-up view of all three major types of bodies in the swarms (so-called C-, P- and D-types). The dark-red P- and D-type Trojans resemble those found in the Kuiper Belt of icy bodies that extends beyond the orbit of Neptune. The C-types are found mostly in the outer parts of the Main Belt of asteroids, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. All of the Trojans are thought to be abundant in dark carbon compounds. Below an insulating blanket of dust, they are probably rich in water and other volatile substances.

7. Pretzel, Anyone?

This diagram illustrates Lucy’s orbital path. The spacecraft’s path (green) is shown in a slowly turning frame of reference that makes Jupiter appear stationary, giving the trajectory its pretzel-like shape.

8. Moving Targets

This time-lapsed animation shows the movements of the inner planets (Mercury, brown; Venus, white; Earth, blue; Mars, red), Jupiter (orange), and the two Trojan swarms (green) during the course of the Lucy mission.

9. Long To-Do List

Lucy and its impressive suite of remote-sensing instruments will study the geology, surface composition, and physical properties of the Trojans at close range. The payload includes three imaging and mapping instruments, including a color imaging and infrared mapping spectrometer and a thermal infrared spectrometer. Lucy also will perform radio science investigations using its telecommunications system to determine the masses and densities of the Trojan targets.

10. Dream Team

Several institutions will come together to successfully pull off this mission. The Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, is the principal investigator institution. Our Goddard Space Flight Center will provide overall mission management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver will build the spacecraft. Instruments will be provided by Goddard, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Arizona State University. Discovery missions are overseen by the Planetary Missions Program Office at our Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for our Planetary Science Division.

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Two Asian-American students were assaulted in Arizona for speaking Mandarin

Two Asian-American students at Arizona State University were on their way home Saturday when 22-year-old suspect, Kalie Rutledge, allegedly yelled, “I don’t speak Chinese” and told the two to shut up. Rutledge then followed them off the train to physically attack them. Justice may be coming for the students.


(3/100 days of productivity • 08192016)

*how I feel after a long day*

- 4 hours of sleep, wandered around campus for a good 15 min looking for a room that was literally the next door to the exit I took, but, despite all that, I met my sociology teacher who is everything my friend described him as: funny, laidback, calls students and other pretentious teachers out on their shit, really inspires you to work hard for your education especially if you paid it all yourself or with your parents money.
After class, I saw my therapist and discussed my personal and academic goals of balance that will be accomplished, I bought my ticket to LA for my birthday weekend, then lastly, I worked 6 hours with a fucking blister in between my third and fourth toe and yet had awesome customers who tipped and enjoyed my ramblings ☺️

AND ON TOP OF THAT, my stationary came yes. Oh yes, the icing to this wonderful 3 tiered cake of Fridayness. My iPad / everything else holder of things arrived, my duckie tabs, my forest memo notes, and my study planner for the a’s I see in my future 😁


The thing about moving out of state for college is that it’s like a new beginning. A second chance to be exactly who you want to be. From Oregon to Arizona, geographically it’s only a 900 mile difference but emotionally, home feels light years away. However, it’s been my dream since I was thirteen. I’ve been here a total of 9 days now, but it feels like months. So much has changed. My best friend here is a girl I’ve known for merely a week. I left home with a boyfriend, a solid outlook on who and what I wanted to be here, and a positive mind. Nine days later, I’m lost.

No boyfriend. No idea what I’m going to do. And now, I’m sad. Simple as that. I am sad. What direction am I going? Business Communication major, is that really what I want to do with my whole life? Who knows. As for now, where are my friends? I thought, sorority… maybe. Surely I’d make it in to one, but do I really want to be around a bunch of girls that are forced to be my friend because we’re “sisters”? No, fuck that. Not at all. 

Where are the people that want to travel the world, open their mind and live life as free spirits? The kids with the tattoos and friendly smiles. That hang out and take bong rips while doing artistically stimulating things on the weekends. These are the people I want to be with.

Not the girls who wear pink on Wednesdays and shop at the most cookie cutter places possible. No thanks. I want to be an independent and I want to love myself and my life. I want to wear studded bustiers and camo pants. I want to make my own dresses and not do my hair in the morning.

The problem is, where on this campus, does that fit in?