The Lucy spaceship will be extremely close to Earth

The Lucy spaceship will be extremely close to Earth

On 16 October, NASA's Lucy spaceship, the first mission to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, will fly over the Earth's atmosphere, flying only 350 kilometres above the planet's surface, and passing the Earth on the first anniversary of the launch, Lucy will receive part of the orbital energy needed to travel to an unattended asteroid population.

So far, Lucy has one year of a 12-year journey. The Earth's gravitational aid will take the ship to a new trajectory. In two years' time, it will return to the planet for a second gravitational manoeuvre. This will allow the mission to cross the main asteroid belt, where it will observe Donald Johanson's asteroid and then go to the trojan rock. There, Lucy will pass through six Trojan asteroids: Euribata and his companion, Queta, Polimela, and his unnamed satellite, Leuc and Orus.

Lucy will approach the planet from the sun's side, astro-likers won't see the ship a few days before the event, but his camera will take pictures of almost the full Earth and the moon, and the mission scientists will use these images to calibrate tools.

The Lucy trajectory will bring the spaceship very close to Earth, and it will be even lower than the ISS. The probe will have to pass through a region full of satellites and space debris into Earth orbit. NASA has developed a special protocol and two different manoeuvres to ensure the safety of the spacecraft.