Following its launch in October 2021, Lucy K – one of NASA’s asteroid-hunting spacecraft – solar arrays failed to latch after deployment. The mission team has made significant progress in deploying the unlatched solar array and is confident that the solar array will successfully meet mission requirements in its current tense and stable state.
The mission team estimates that the solar array is between 353° and 357° open (out of 360 total degrees for a fully positioned array) and the array is under significantly higher stress, giving it significantly greater stabilization.
“From May 6 to June 16, NASA’s Lucy mission team conducted a multi-stage effort aimed at further deploying the spacecraft’s unaltered solar array. The team used the spacecraft to operate the array’s deployment motor for a limited period of time. This allowed them to closely monitor the spacecraft’s response,” NASA said in a statement Tuesday.
— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) June 28, 2022
NASA’s Lucy spacecraft, currently en route to the Trojan asteroids, successfully performed a trajectory correction maneuver on June 21. This was the second in a series of maneuvers to prepare the spacecraft for its Earth flyby.
NASA said further deployment efforts would be halted as the Lucy spacecraft enters a planned period of limited communications. Throughout this period, Lucy will be in contact with her ground team via a low-gain antenna. The spacecraft will emerge from this partial communications blackout following Earth’s gravity assist maneuver on October 16, 2022.
Lucy’s main goal is to observe a main-belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids that share an orbit around the Sun with Jupiter, making it NASA’s first solo spacecraft mission in history to explore so many different orbits. Detects asteroids.