NASA plans missions of discovery to study how solar system formed
On Wednesday, the U.S. space group NASA made an announcement. It will send two spaceships to visit asteroids. These are pieces of rock that orbit the sun. The spaceships will study the beginning of the solar system.
The two missions are named Lucy and Psyche. NASA hopes to launch Lucy in 2021. It hopes to launch Psyche in 2023.
NASA wants to learn about what happened long ago. The group wants to know how the solar system began.
One Mission Headed Near Jupiter
The Lucy mission will study asteroids near Jupiter. These are called Trojan asteroids. Scientists think they were formed a long time ago.
This is a special opportunity, Harold Levison said. He is a scientist working on the Lucy mission. The Trojan asteroids are made of the same material that formed some of the planets, he said. They will help scientists learn about the beginning of the solar system.
The Psyche mission will explore a special asteroid. It is called 16 Psyche.
Most asteroids are rocky or icy. But 16 Psyche is made of iron and nickel.
Asteroid Might Have Once Been A Planet
NASA said that 16 Psyche could be the core of an early planet. Most planets have three layers. The core is in the center. It is surrounded by the mantle and the crust. 16 Psyche might have been a planet that lost its outer layers after crashing into something.
Jim Green said both missions will help NASA. Green is a scientist. He works for the U.S. space group. He said the missions will help NASA understand "how the solar system formed."