NASA's Lucy team makes significant progress in deploying spacecraft's solar array

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 29-06-2022 12:15 IST | Created: 29-06-2022 12:15 IST
NASA's Lucy team makes significant progress in deploying spacecraft's solar array
Image Credit: NASA
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Following its launch in October 2021, one of Lucy's - NASA's asteroid-hunting spacecraft - solar arrays failed to latch after deployment. The mission team has achieved significant progress in deploying the unlatched solar array and is confident that the solar array will successfully meet the mission's needs in its current tensioned and stabilized state.

The mission team estimates that the solar array is between 353 degrees and 357 degrees open (out of 360 total degrees for a fully deployed array) and the array is under substantially more tension, giving it significantly more stabilization.

"From May 6 to June 16, NASA's Lucy mission team carried out a multi-stage effort intended to further deploy the spacecraft's unlatched solar array. The team commanded the spacecraft to operate the array's deployment motor for limited periods of time, allowing them to closely monitor the response of the spacecraft," NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.

NASA's Lucy spacecraft, which is currently en route to the Trojan asteroids, successfully carried out a trajectory correction manoeuvre on June 21. This was the second in a series of manoeuvres to prepare the spacecraft for its Earth flyby.

NASA said that further deployment attempts will be paused as the Lucy spacecraft enters a planned period of limited communications. Throughout this period, Lucy will remain in contact with its ground team via a low-gain antenna. The spacecraft will emerge from this partial communications blackout after its Earth gravity assist manoeuvre on October 16, 2022.

Lucy's main goal is to observe one main belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids that share an orbit around the Sun with Jupiter, making it NASA's first single spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different asteroids.

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