Oct 16, 2021 - Science

NASA spacecraft "Lucy" embarks on mission to explore asteroids

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeings CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches from Space Launch Complex 41, Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket in December 2019 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo: Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images

A NASA spacecraft named Lucy blasted into the sky on Saturday morning on a 12-year mission to investigate eight asteroids, AP reports.

Driving the news: Seven of the unknown rocks are among asteroids sharing Jupiter's orbit, which are believed to be remnants of planetary formation, per AP.

  • Lucy's journey will span nearly 4 billion miles and is the first rocket to explore the asteroids around Jupiter. The spacecraft also carried lab-grown diamonds for its science instruments, per AP.
  • Lucy is named after the 3.2 million-year-old skeletal remains of a human ancestor found in Ethiopia nearly a half-century ago — a discovery that was named after the 1967 Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
  • The rocket was etched with Beatles lyrics and other phrases, per AP.

What they're saying: "I’m so excited — Lucy is going back in the sky with diamonds. Johnny will love that,” Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said, referring to his late colleague John Lennon.

  • "Anyway, if you meet anyone up there, Lucy, give them peace and love from me."
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