• NASA’s Ralph – a space instrument that has travelled as far as Pluto – is set to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of the solar system.
• Ralph was first launched aboard the New Horizons spacecraft in 2006m and obtained stunning flyby images of Jupiter and its moons.
• This was followed by a visit to Pluto where Ralph took the first high-definition pictures of the iconic minor planet.
• In 2021, Ralph is set to journey with the Lucy mission to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
• The instrumet will fly by another Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69 – nicknamed Ultima Thule in January 2019.
• Ralph’s observations of 2014 MU69 will provide unique insights into this small, icy world.
• The Lucy spacecraft carries a near-twin of Ralph, called L’Ralph, which will investigate Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
• 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.
• 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.
Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology
Prelims level: Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids
Mains level: Read the attached story