On Saturday, NASA will launch Lucy, a first-of-its-kind mission to examine Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, two enormous groups of space rocks believed to be leftovers of the primordial material that produced the solar system’s outer planets. The space probe, which will be carried aloft by an Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance (UAL), a joint venture of Boeing Co (BA.N) and Lockheed Martin Corp, is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:34 a.m. EDT (0934 GMT) (LMT.N).
Lucy will be launched into orbit on a 12-year mission to explore a record number of asteroids if everything goes according to plan. It will be the first mission to investigate the Trojans, a swarm of thousands of rocky objects orbiting the sun in two swarms, one ahead of and one behind the huge gas planet Jupiter. The largest known Trojan asteroids, named for Greek mythological heroes, are estimated to be 225 kilometers (140 miles) in diameter.