Lucy in the sky: Spacecraft will visit record 8 asteroids

Florida

This image provided by the Southwest Research Institute depicts the Lucy spacecraft approaching an asteroid. It will be first space mission to explore a diverse population of small bodies known as the Jupiter Trojan asteroids. (SwRI via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is on an asteroid roll as it gets set to launch a series of spacecraft to visit and even bash some of the solar system’s most enticing rocks.

A robotic trailblazer named Lucy is due to blast off Saturday on a 12-year cruise to unexplored swarms of asteroids out near Jupiter.

Lucy will zip past a record eight asteroids for scientific study.

Then in November, NASA will launch another spacecraft to a double-asteroid closer to home. But this craft will deliberately ram the main asteroid’s smaller moonlet to change its orbit.

The test could one day save Earth from an incoming rock.

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