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SCIENCE
 

NASA plans missions of discovery to study how solar system formed

An artist’s conception of the Lucy spacecraft flying by the Trojan Eurybates, which is one of the six diverse and scientifically important Trojans to be studied. Trojans are fossils of planet formation and so will supply important clues to the earliest history of the solar system. Credits: SwRI and SSL/Peter Rubin

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."

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1
Anchor 1: What the Text Says

Which question is answered in the first paragraph of the article?

A

How many asteroids are in space?

B

What are asteroids made of?

C

Why do asteroids orbit the sun?

D

How big are asteroids?

2
Anchor 1: What the Text Says

Read the section "One Mission Headed Near Jupiter."

Which paragraph describes an asteroid that is different from other asteroids?

3
Anchor 2: Central Idea

Read the section "Asteroid Might Have Once Been A Planet."

Which sentence from the section describes the MAIN idea of the entire article?

A

NASA said that Psyche could be the core of an early planet.

B

Most planets have three layers.

C

Psyche might have been a planet that lost its outer layers after crashing into something.

D

He said the missions will help NASA understand "how the solar system formed."

4
Anchor 2: Central Idea

Which detail would be MOST important to include in a summary of the article?

A

NASA will send two spaceships to visit asteroids.

B

Harold Levison is a scientist working on the Lucy mission.

C

The name of one asteroid is 16 Psyche.

D

Jim Green works for the U.S. space group.

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