In just a few weeks, NASA will launch the Lucy spacecraft which will be the first to visit the Trojan asteroids. Lucy will provide new insights into these primordial objects that formed the planets of our solar system, the origins of Earth, and perhaps even the formation of life. The Unistellar Network has already contributed to this groundbreaking mission.
Unistellar Citizen Astronomers Aid Lucy Mission
Unistellar’s network of citizen astronomers successfully detected three of the Trojan asteroids that NASA’s Lucy mission will visit: 617 Patroclus, 21900 Orus and 11351 Leucus.
Earlier this year, five Unistellar citizen astronomers, including actor and musician Tim Russ, known for his role as Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager, collected important data on Patroclus that will assist NASA’s Lucy mission to safely pass by the asteroid in 2033.
For Orus, the Unistellar team provided data that estimated the size of the asteroid and collected information about the object’s shape and position that will help the mission. The team flew to Oman on September 7, 2019 to observe the Trojan asteroid as it occulted a star. There, the team observed the first-ever occultation of Orus with an eVscope, providing astronomers new and critical information.
And in December 2019, the Unistellar team in Irvine, California observed one of the first-ever occultations of Leucus. Dr. Frank Marchis, Unistellar’s Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, said the observation was a scientific success in comments made at the time. “Once again, the Unistellar eVscope has provided valid scientific information to professional astronomers.”