NASA’s Lucy spacecraft passed through Earth’s atmosphere this morning on the first anniversary of its launch.
It was smaller than the International Space Station – only 220 miles above the Earth’s surface – passing through satellites and debris and using procedures to avoid any potential collision.
They are also trained to take atmospheric drag into account when designing flights.
The satellite was first seen by observers in Western Australia before disappearing into Earth’s shadow.
NASA, SPACEX CREW-4 PERFORMS RE-INSTALLATION NEAR FLORIDA COAST
The 12-year-long mission, which began on Oct. 16 launches next year, is the first mission to Jupiter asteroids.
Asteroids are in orbits around the Sun and the same distance as Jupiter.
NASA said the first gravity assist will place Lucy on a new trajectory for two years in orbit, before returning to another assist that gives Lucy the energy to transit the main asteroid belt.
NASA LAUNCHED THE MISSION TO SUCCESSFULLY BRING THIS ASTEROID INTO A NEW ORBIT
Lucy will observe the Donaldjohanson asteroid before moving on to the Trojan asteroids.
He will cross Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, and Orus.
Lucy’s third gravity assist is targeted for the 2030s, which will send the nearby Patroclo-Menoetus binary asteroid into a trailing probe of the Trojan asteroid.
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The agency noted that it uses images of Earth and the Moon as it flies by to calibrate its instruments.
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