There are space probes that flew past asteroids, some came close to it, some orbited and some landed on it and took samples. Those asteroids belonged in the main belt. Now, Lucy will become one of the two space probes that is set to explore the Jupiter Trojans. It was planned on 2017 and is set to launch on October 2021. But why it took so long to plan a mission for Jupiter Trojans? Most of the previous asteroid mission were planned and executed in the early years of 21st century and even flybys were done by Galileo and Cassini. The success rate of asteroid flyby and exploration missions were quite high including asteroid mining missions considering how difficult those missions were. So, why exploration of Jupiter Trojans were not planned in those previous missions? Is it due to their complex orbits? Or due to financial reasons?

Question: Why it took so long to plan a space exploration mission for Trojan asteroids?

  • $\begingroup$ My guess: finite money restricts number of missions, asteroids closer to Earth were more interesting because they've been studied more by ground-based systems and they may have similarity to asteroids that can hit Earth. Lucy will use conventional chemical propulsion so it wasn't waiting for electric propulsion to mature. Currently unanswered: Where can I read about Lucy's complete propulsion system? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Aug 15, 2021 at 5:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Relevant comment by @EricLipptert: space.stackexchange.com/questions/43326/#comment139672_43326, "The question "why has no one done X?" is a strange question; we are not required to give you reasons to NOT spend billions of dollars. Stuff gets done when there is a reason to do it, not when the reasons to not do it are all exhausted. There are infinitely many things you could have done this morning, and you don't expect people to ask you why you didn't do all of them." $\endgroup$ Aug 15, 2021 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ It was @EricLippert, not EricLipptert who made that comment. My fingers get shaky sometimes. $\endgroup$ Aug 15, 2021 at 20:24


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