NASA’s Lucy spacecraft successfully observed the May 15-16, 2022 total lunar eclipse from a unique vantage point, 100 million km (64 million miles) from the Earth — nearly 70% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
Lucy was launched on October 16, 2021 aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket out of Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.
The mission takes its name from the fossilized human ancestor — called ‘Lucy’ by her discoverers — whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution. Likewise, Lucy will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the Solar System.
Lucy is currently traveling towards the Earth for a gravity assist on October 16, 2022, to help propel it on its journey to the Trojan asteroids.
“While total lunar eclipses aren’t that rare — they happen every year or so — it isn’t that often that you get a chance to observe them from an entirely new angle,” said Lucy principal investigator Dr. Hal Levison, a researcher at Southwest Research Institute.
“When we realized Lucy had a chance to observe the May 15-16 lunar eclipse as a part of the instrument calibration process, everyone was incredibly excited.”
Lucy’s high-resolution, black-and-white camera, L’LORRI, took 86 1-millisecond exposures from 8:40 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. CDT on May 15 to create a time-lapse video of the first half of the total lunar eclipse.
“Capturing these images really was an amazing team effort,” said Lucy acting deputy principal investigator Dr. John Spencer, also from Southwest Research Institute.
“The instrument, guidance, navigation and science operations teams all had to work together to collect these data, getting the Earth and the Moon in the same frame.
“And all this had to be done while operating the spacecraft in a very tricky environment.”
Lucy was designed to operate at the Trojans, more than five times farther from the Sun than the spacecraft is now.
Due to this much warmer thermal environment, the spacecraft only viewed the first half of the eclipse to avoid the risk of overheating the spacecraft.
Source link: https://www.sci.news/astronomy/lucy-lunar-eclipse-10838.html