NASA is continuous to analyze what’s mistaken with the photo voltaic array of Lucy, its spacecraft launched final week to visit the Trojan asteroids however says that the spacecraft is wholesome and is touring alongside the right trajectory.
Lucy was launched final Saturday, October 16, and the launch went off successfully with none points. Nonetheless, hours after liftoff, there was a problem when the spacecraft went to deploy its 24-feet-wide photo voltaic arrays. One array deployed as deliberate, however the different array didn’t lock into place.
Since then, technicians have been working to determine what the precise downside is. The photo voltaic arrays are so massive that they should be folded up for launch to suit into the rocket, then they’re designed to unfurl once the craft is in space. Nonetheless, for causes which stay unclear, one of many arrays solely partially unfurled.
The excellent news is that even not totally unfurled, the array can nonetheless accumulate solar energy. NASA says the array is “producing practically the anticipated energy” and that the mixed energy of this and the opposite totally deployed array “is sufficient to hold the spacecraft wholesome and functioning.”
The craft had been in secure mode (a minimal, fundamental model of its operations) whereas the difficulty was investigated, however on Wednesday, October 20, the craft transitioned into cruise mode efficiently. That signifies that the craft might be making extra autonomous changes because it travels, and it’s working as anticipated to this point.
“The spacecraft stays secure, energy optimistic, with all different subsystems working, aside from one photo voltaic array,” NASA wrote in an update.
The replace went on to say that the group will proceed testing to search out out what went mistaken with the photo voltaic array deployment earlier than they try to finish the deployment course of: “NASA is reviewing spacecraft information, together with utilizing strategies to measure how a lot electrical present is produced by the array throughout varied spacecraft positions and attitudes. This may enable the group to know how shut the array is to the latched place. These strategies are nicely inside the capabilities of the system and pose no threat. Any plans for re-deployment might be thought of after finishing this newest evaluation.”