The US space agency NASA this evening (Saturday) launched the robotic spacecraft "Lucy" in the direction of Jupiter, in order to closely examine two groups of asteroids near the planet.
According to experts, it is possible that these asteroid swarms are "remnants" from the formation of planets, and therefore can be a kind of "fossil" of the solar system that will teach us much about the way the system got to its state and why it works the way it does.
The spacecraft, which was grown as a home refrigerator, was carried out in the early morning hours (local time) at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the mission is expected to last 12 years, during which the spacecraft will try to approach seven asteroids.
The cost of the mission is at least $ 981 million.
The name of the lander is a tribute to a famous fossil found in Africa, also known as Lucy, who taught many scholars about the way in which the human race evolved.
"These asteroids, called Trojans, follow or precede Jupiter in its orbit by about 60 degrees," the chief researcher on the mission, Hal Levison, was quoted as saying.
"They stay in place because of the gravitational effect of Jupiter and the sun, and in fact what is there is from the early period of the solar system. Therefore they are actually fossils of the raw material of the planets."
Although the comet will not land on the asteroids, it will be close enough to find out the nature of their material and other properties, thus shedding light on how planets formed 4.5 billion years ago.