Nasa’s Ralph to ex­plore Jupiter’s Tro­jan as­ter­oids in 2021

Oman Daily Observer - - SCITECH -

NASA’S Ralph, one of the most well-trav­elled sci­en­tific in­stru­ment, is set to ex­plore Jupiter’s Tro­jan as­ter­oids aboard the Lucy space­craft in 2021, the US space agency said. Ralph has made many dis­cov­er­ies since it first launched aboard the New Hori­zons space­craft in 2006. Given a name and not an acro­nym, Ralph en­ables the study of the com­po­si­tion and at­mos­pheres of ce­les­tial ob­jects.

In 2021, the Lucy space­craft will carry a near-twin of Ralph, called L’ralph (“Lucy Ralph”), to in­ves­ti­gate Jupiter’s Tro­jan as­ter­oids, which are rem­nants from the early days of the so­lar sys­tem, Nasa said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

The L’ralph in­stru­ment suite will study this di­verse group of bod­ies. Lucy will fly by six Tro­jans and one Main Belt asteroid, more than any other pre­vi­ous asteroid mis­sion. L’ralph will de­tect the Tro­jan as­ter­oids’ chem­i­cal fin­ger­prints, the state­ment said.

L’ralph al­lows sci­en­tists to in­ter­pret data pro­vided by the Sun’s re­flected light that are the fin­ger­prints of dif­fer­ent el­e­ments and com­pounds.

Th­ese data could pro­vide clues about how or­ganic mol­e­cules form in prim­i­tive bod­ies, a process that might also have led to the emer­gence of life on Earth.

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