Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Ralph, Lucy
Mains level: Space missions and their objectives
- 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 2006 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 instrument 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.
Lucy and L’Ralph
- 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.