On October 16, the NASA probe “Lucy” was launched from Earth. She then took the direction of the Trojan asteroids, an area of the solar system close to Jupiter that we still know very little about. Scientifically, the study of these celestial bodies could give us some answers on how the solar system was built.
But in order to complete its mission, NASA needs you. In a press release she asks all people who live in this diagonal (see image above) to take their telescope and start star hunting. As astrophysicist Eric Lagadec explains on his twitter accountthe mission is quite simple.
The objective is to point his astronomical telescope towards Eurybate. At 4 a.m. on October 23, the asteroid will pass in front of a star, creating an occultation. The phenomenon will be very fast, it will not last more than 10 seconds. It will therefore be necessary to be placed in the right place to follow the lightning passage of this celestial body of about sixty kilometers in diameter.
This simultaneous observation, conducted from the four corners of the globe, should allow NASA to learn more about this asteroid. During its mission, the Lucy probe should fly over it much closer, in 2027. Until then, the American space agency is trying to collect as much information as possible to make the mission as rich as possible.
For all people who therefore have the necessary equipment to carry out such an observation (namely a telescope or a fairly powerful digital camera) it is possible to register directly on the site of the French association of astronomy in order to share its results and to help science.
Everyone can advance science
There have been more and more “collective science” missions around the world in recent years. If large observatories like the VLT (Very Large Telescope) based in Chile, or even the James Webb are extraordinary tools, nothing replaces a multiplication of observations.
By accumulating the points of view, the space agencies can then group the data and have much more information on a phenomenon or an object than during a single observation. By implementing these multiple observations, agencies like NASA also increase their chances of having good results.
If the observation had only been made from a single point in France, imperfect weather conditions could have reduced all NASA’s work to nothing. In order not to miss these 10 very instructive seconds, the American space agency needs you to observe the asteroid Eurybate.