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A Satellite for Eurybates

14 Jan 2020, 18:45 UTC
A Satellite for Eurybates
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3548 Eurybates is a Jupiter trojan, one of the family of objects that have moved within the Lagrange points around Jupiter for billions of years (the term is libration, meaning these asteroids actually oscillate around the Lagrange points). Consider them trapped objects, of consequence because they have so much to tell us about the early Solar System. The Lucy mission aims to visit both populations (the ‘Greeks’ and the ‘Trojans’) at Jupiter’s L4 and L5 Lagrangians when it heads for Jupiter following launch in 2021.

Image: During the course of its mission, Lucy will fly by six 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. Credit: Astronomical Institute of CAS/Petr Scheirich (used with permission).
Right now the focus is on Eurybates as mission planning continues, for we’ve just learned thanks to the Hubble instrument’s Wide Field Camera 3 that this asteroid has a moon, an object more than 6,000 times fainter than Eurybates itself. According to mission principal investigator Hal Levison (Southwest Research Institute), that implies a diameter of less than 1 ...

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