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    Lockheed Martin to Build Solar System Probe for Trojan Asteroids Near Jupiter

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    US defense and aerospace company Lockheed Martin will build a spacecraft to explore swarms of Jupiter's “mysterious” Trojan asteroids that share the gas giant's orbit.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Lucy spacecraft, which will explore two swarms of asteroids that accompany the planet Jupiter on its 12-year orbit around the sun, will be built by Lockheed Martin, the company said in a press release.

    "The design of the spacecraft draws from the flight-proven OSIRIS-REx spacecraft currently on its way to a near-Earth asteroid Bennu," Lockheed Space Systems Director of Interplanetary Systems Guy Beutelschies stated in the release on Thursday. "The Lucy program has a development cost cap of about $450 million."

    Jupiter's “mysterious” Trojan asteroids are trapped by Jupiter’s gravity in two swarms that share the planet’s orbit, one leading and one trailing the planet, the release explained.

    "This is a unique opportunity," said Southwest Research Institute Principal Investigator Dr. Harold Levison. "Because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system and Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins."

    OSIRIS-Rex mission was designed to bring a sample of the asteroid Bennu back to Earth.

    Both missions are part of the NASA Discovery Program, a low-cost effort to explore the solar system with missions proposed by scientists at universities and private research institutes.

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    Tags:
    probe, Jupiter Trojan Asteroids, Jupiter, NASA, United States
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