Courtesy of NASA

The missions are planned to launch in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

Jess McHugh
January 04, 2017

NASA announced two new space missions Wednesday, both of which aim to probe the early eras of our solar system and look for new discoveries on planet formation.

The missions, nicknamed “Lucy” and “Psyche,” will explore the asteroid belt of Jupiter and an unusual metal asteroid, respectively.

Lucy is set to launch in 2021 and will explore the Trojan asteroids clustered near Jupiter, which are thought to have formed during an earlier era of the solar system, according to a statement from NASA.

“This is a unique opportunity,” said Harold F. Levison, principal investigator of the Lucy mission, in the same statement. “Because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system. Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins.”

Psyche will explore a metal asteroid that is 130-miles in diameter, named Psyche 16. This mission is slated for launch in 2023.

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