An unmanned NASA spacecraft named Lucy is making the first space mission to the Jupiter Trojan asteroids, small bodies that share an orbit with the fifth planet from the sun. Lucy’s payload includes a plaque imprinted with words of wisdom for future explorers to find – including poetry from University of Virginia professor Rita Dove.
The spacecraft – more than 52 feet tip to tip, with its two circular solar arrays unfurled, each close to 24 feet in diameter – is scheduled to launch between Saturday and Nov. 7. It will embark on a 12-year journey to study some of the asteroids in “the swarms of Trojan asteroids associated with [but not actually near] Jupiter,” according to NASA’s Lucy website. “These primitive bodies hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system.”