NASA’s Lucy mission is primed to be the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids around Jupiter. Today the mission moved one step closer to its launch following the successful integration of the L’TES instrument into the spacecraft.
L’TES stands for Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer, and just as the name implies, it is a fancy spectrometer. This tool will allow the Lucy spacecraft to learn the material properties of the asteroids’ surfaces via temperature readings. L’TES will also gather information via thermal infrared that could provide NASA with valuable information about the asteroids.
“Having two of the three instruments integrated onto the spacecraft is an exciting milestone,” said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, project manager for Lucy. The first instrument installed on Lucy was the High Gain Antenna that will allow it to maintain communication with Earth and get precise measurements of the Trojan asteroids’ mass.
The last of the three scientific instruments set to be installed on Lucy is L’Ralph, a color imaging camera and infrared spectrometer. This final piece to the puzzle is currently scheduled to be delivered sometime in early 2021.
Once the final instrument is installed, Lucy will be ready for launch in October 2021, despite the slowdowns caused by COVID. “I am constantly impressed by the agility and flexibility of this team to handle any challenges set before them. Just five years ago this mission was an idea on paper, and now we have many major components of the spacecraft and payload assembled, tested, and ready to go,” said principal mission investigator Hal Levison.