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A NASA spacecraft will pass close to Earth on Sunday

A NASA spacecraft will pass close to Earth on Sunday

(CNN) – This Sunday, a spacecraft called Lucy will be in the sky.

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will circle Earth, coming a few hundred kilometers from us on its journey to Jupiter’s distant Trojan asteroids.

The spacecraft will pass about 350 kilometers above the Earth’s surface on Sunday morning, According to a NASA press release,.

The space agency said some lucky observers will be able to see Lucy.

The spacecraft will be visible from Western Australia around 6:55 a.m. EDT. But it will disappear from view after only a few minutes. At 7:26 AM EDT, it should be visible over the western US, assuming the skies are clear and observers have an appropriate pair of binoculars.

Getting close to Earth would require the spacecraft to navigate through an area dense with satellites and debris. NASA is implementing special measures to prevent Lucy from colliding with anything during her flight.

“Team Lucy prepared two different maneuvers,” said Coralie Adam, KinetX Aerospace’s deputy navigation team leader, in the statement. “If Lucy is found to be in danger of colliding with a satellite or piece of debris, then — 12 hours before the closest approach to Earth — the spacecraft will do one of these, changing the closest approach time by two or four seconds.

“It’s a small correction, but enough to avoid a potentially catastrophic collision.”

This illustration shows the Lucy spacecraft passing a Trojan asteroid near Jupiter.

The 12-year Lucy mission was launched in October 2021. Its goal is to explore swarms of Trojan asteroids orbiting Jupiter. Asteroids have never been directly observed before; The image in this article only shows an illustration of Lucy approaching an asteroid. But if all goes according to plan, Lucy will provide the first high-resolution images of asteroids.

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The spacecraft will pass Earth three times during its mission. Her entry into Earth’s orbit gives Lucy the boost she needs to continue her path.

“The last time we saw the spacecraft, it was covered at the Florida Cargo Show,” said Hal Levison, principal investigator for Lucy at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “It’s exciting to be here in Colorado and see the spacecraft again.

“And this time Lucy will be in heaven.”