NASA looks to the exploration of asteroids. Original article by Alessandro Brizzi.

NASA looks to the exploration of asteroids. Original article by Alessandro Brizzi.

In 2021, the US space agency plans to launch a mission, named Lucy, to visit the Trojan asteroids, followed two years later by another mission, called Psyche, destined to reach the namesake metallic asteroid, which is perhaps a fragment the nucleus of a vanished primordial planet.


Deleted instead, at least for the moment, two missions for the study of Venus. NASA will send two spacecraft to explore asteroids, hoping to get new information about the origins of the solar system.

Solar system

The mission will travel to Psyche what could be the metallic heart of a failure to investigate the planet while Lucy Trojan steroids near Jupiter.


Selected in September 2015, survived the budget cuts that eliminated two missions to Venus, the planet that does not see an US planetary mission since the launch of the Magellan probe in 1989. Lucy – whose launch is expected in October 2021 and arriving at his first major goal in 2027 – will explore six of the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter, orbits trapped in front and behind the giant planet. The probe is named after the famous fossil hominid: will have to investigate the origins of the giant planets, studying the fragments left over from their formation. These small bodies are actually fossils of planet formation. Psyche, whose launch is expected in October 2023, should achieve its goal – a 210 km diameter asteroid In 2030. The object of his observations could be the now exposed core of a vanished primordial planet. We visited icy worlds, rocky worlds and worlds made of gas, but we never visited a metal world. Lucy and Psyche will lead us to unique worlds that mankind has never explored before. The agency also will continue to fund for another year the development of a NEO Cam Space Telescope, intended to hunt down the near-Earth asteroids.

Space telescope

The Discovery Program is open to projects studying any goal in the solar system other than Earth or the Sun, and they have a cost not exceeding $ 450 million.


Among the previous Discovery missions there were the telescope “of planet hunting” Kepler and the Genesis mission that returned samples of the solar wind. The most recent project included in the program was the Lander In Sight for the study of Mars geophysics.

Its launch was scheduled for 2016, but a loss of vacuum in his main instrument, a seismograph French-built, it has slowed. NASA has revised the seismometers and now plans to launch In Sight in May 2018. But the delay has burdened by an additional $ 154 million on the original cost of the mission, raising questions about how the agency should manage costs, while developing new space vehicles. Venus is one of the six objectives proposed for New Frontiers, a class of NASA planetary missions that can cost up to $ 850 million. The other five, indicated by a survey of US planetary scientists realized in 2013, are launching a probe to Saturn, its moons into an oceanic” Titan and / or Enceladus, another visit to the Trojan asteroids, recovering surface samples of a comet and sampling of the South Pole-Aitken basin.

NASA looks to the exploration of asteroids. Original article by Alessandro Brizzi.



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