NASA Invites Public to Share Excitement of the Lucy Launch

Click Here to Register for Lucy’s Launch

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Centaur stage for NASA’s Lucy mission is lifted by crane into the Vertical Integration Facility near Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Sept. 16, 2021. Lucy is scheduled to launch no earlier than Saturday, Oct. 16, on a ULA Atlas V 401 rocket from Pad 41.
Image: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA is inviting the public to take part in virtual activities and events ahead of the launch of Lucy, the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V-401 rocket. Launch is scheduled for 5:34 a.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

During the course of its mission, Lucy will fly by seven Jupiter Trojans. This time-lapsed animation shows the movements of the inner planets (Mercury, brown; Venus, white; Earth, blue; Mars, red), Jupiter (orange), and the two Trojan swarms (green) during the course of the Lucy mission.

Source: Astronomical Institute of CAS/Petr Scheirich (used with permission)

Members of the public can register to attend the launch virtually. NASA’s virtual guest program for this launch includes curated launch resources, behind-the-scenes looks at the mission, and a virtual guest passport stamp following a successful launch.

This diagram illustrates Lucy’s orbital path. The spacecraft’s path (green) is shown in a frame of reference where Jupiter remains stationary, giving the trajectory its pretzel-like shape. After launch in October 2021, Lucy has two close Earth flybys before encountering its Trojan targets. In the L4 cloud Lucy will fly by (3548) Eurybates (white) and its satellite, (15094) Polymele (pink), (11351) Leucus (red), and (21900) Orus (red) from 2027-2028. After diving past Earth again Lucy will visit the L5 cloud and encounter the (617) Patroclus-Menoetius binary (pink) in 2033. As a bonus, in 2025 on the way to the L4, Lucy flies by a small Main Belt asteroid, (52246) Donaldjohanson (white), named for the discoverer of the Lucy fossil. After flying by the Patroclus-Menoetius binary in 2033, Lucy will continue cycling between the two Trojan clouds every six years.
Image: Southwest Research Institute

Live coverage begins on the agency’s website with the NASA EDGE: Live Lucy Rollout Show on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 10 a.m. EDT. The countdown commentary and launch broadcast will begin Saturday, Oct. 16, at 5 a.m., and air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as YouTubeTwitterFacebookLinkedInTwitchDaily MotionTheta.TV and NASA’s App.

This time-lapsed animation shows the movements of Jupiter’s two swarms of Trojans during the time frame of the Lucy mission. In this animation, the frame is rotated at the average rate of Jupiter’s motion around the Sun. Jupiter remains nearly stationary, moving only slightly relative to the average because of Jupiter’s small orbital eccentricity. The Trojans circulate around the L4 and L5 points respectively with the combined gravitational effects of Jupiter and the Sun nudging the Trojans so that they remain in the swarm.

Source: Astronomical Institute of CAS/Petr Scheirich (used with permission)

The Trojan asteroids are remnants of our early solar system trapped in stable orbits, clustered in two “swarms” leading and following Jupiter in its path around the Sun. No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our Sun. The Lucy mission promises to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the Solar System.

Learn more about the Lucy mission here.

Members of the public can also share in the journey through a variety of activities, including:

Lucy Time Capsule
The public is invited to join Lucy on this 12-year journey by making their own Lucy time capsule. Inspired by the fact that Lucy will be visiting time capsules of our early solar system, as well as the fact that Lucy will carry a plaque to serve as a time capsule from our present era, the Lucy team invites the public to create their own time capsule as they follow along on Lucy’s epic voyage:

Lucy Soundscape
Are you a musician – composer, performer, music educator, or student – inspired by exploration and discovery? Share your inspiration in your unique voice, and join with others to create the Lucy Soundscape, a public collection of original music inspired by NASA’s Lucy mission launching in 2021!

Virtual Launch Passport
Print, fold, and get ready to fill your virtual passport. Stamps will be emailed following launches to those who register via email through Eventbrite.

Watch and Engage on Social Media
Stay connected with the mission on social media and let people know you’re following it on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Follow and tag these accounts: