From the project that brought you Mars Pathfinder, MESSENGER, Dawn, Kepler, and GRAIL, come Lucy and Psyche.
NASA announced Wednesday that the next two missions of the agency’s Discovery Program will send spacecraft to mysterious asteroids, as scientists hunt for clues into the early days of our solar system.
The Lucy mission’s destination will be Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, and the Psyche mission will be off to a larger, metal asteroid unlike other space rocks that NASA missions have targeted.
“These are true missions of discovery that integrate into NASA’s larger strategy of investigating how the solar system formed and evolved,” Jim Green, NASA’s planetary science director, said in a press release. “We’ve explored terrestrial planets, gas giants, and a range of other bodies orbiting the sun. Lucy will observe primitive remnants from farther out in the solar system, while Psyche will directly observe the interior of a planetary body. These additional pieces of the puzzle will help us understand how the sun and its family of planets formed, changed over time, and became places where life could develop and be sustained – and what the future may hold.”