Lucy mission

The Lucy mission is named after the early hominid fossil discovered by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray in the 1970s. The mission's principal investigator is Harold Levison, a planetary scientist whose research focuses on early solar system development. 

"The Trojans are leftover remnants from when the solar system formed," Levison said. "They are preserved in two gravitationally stable clouds orbiting the sun at the same distance as Jupiter. The Lucy mission will sample a diverse set of Trojans that covers a broad range of color, size, rotation and likely other physical properties. In this way, Lucy will provide a better basis for understanding what the early building blocks of planets may have been."

Besides the L'SPACE program, ASU has an additional connection to the Lucy mission. The Lucy Thermal Emission Spectrometer (L'TES for short) is being designed and built on campus at the School of Earth and Space Exploration under the direction of Philip Christensen, Regents' Professor of geological sciences.

"L'SPACE provides an experience in workforce development that's hands-on, immersive and in step with what the students will encounter in the real world after graduation," Boonstra said. "This program will better prepare them to meet the challenges that await as we push our quest for knowledge across the solar system."

Christensen said, "Within the next 5 years, 46% of NASA's workforce will be at retirement age. I think this program offers a great opportunity for students to acquire hands-on skills and experiences that will give them a boost when they graduate and give them traction towards becoming the next generation of explorers."

Robert Burnham

Science writer, School of Earth and Space Exploration