NASA interrupts attempts to fix Lucy’s pesky solar array

NASA interrupts attempts to fix Lucy's pesky solar array
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An illustration of the Lucy spacecraft with its two circular solar arrays fully deployed.

An illustration of the Lucy spacecraft with its two circular solar arrays fully deployed.
illustration: Southwest Research Institute

NASA is taking a break from Try unfold a thorny solar array on the Lucy spacecraft, which claims the probe is too cold and this effort could be when deploying the array more fertile if Lucy is closer to the sun in December 2024.

ANDafter the start in October 2021one of the spaceshipswith two 24 foot wide (7 meter wide) solar arrays, what delivers power for Lucy, not completely unfold, get stuck in an unlocked position. While NASA did previous attempts to fully mount the arraythe Agency announced in a blog post that the Lucy team will be suspended tried to fully unfold the array, say the spaceship is too cold.

That said, NASA isn’t sweating the problem and is appreciated in a blog post that the array is 98% deployed and can sustain the rest Lucy’s 12-year mission to visit Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids, orbiting both in front of and behind the gas giant.

More about this story: 7 interesting facts about the first NASA mission to the Jupiter Trojan asteroids

“Ground-based testing showed that mission attempts were most productive while the spacecraft was warmer and closer to the sun,” NASA communications officer Erin Morton wrote in the Post last week. “Since the spacecraft is currently 123 million miles (197 million km) from the Sun (1.3 times farther from the Sun than Earth) and traveling at 20,000 miles per hour (35,000 km/h), expect that Team no further attempts at deployment under the current conditions will be advantageous.”

OUR noticed problems with the solar system shortly after the start of the missionand concluded that it was a loss of tension in a lanyard used to unfold the circular arrangement. Lucy is now hurtling away from the Sun and getting colder and colder, but will return to Earth in December 2024 to assist gravity. At this point, the Lucy team hopes the spacecraft is warm enough to try again.

In the meantime, the team behind Lucy will gather data on the misbehaving solar array to see how it performs in its slightly incapacitated state while Lucy continues on her visiting mission Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroid Cluster.

More: NASA’s moon-bound lunar flashlight is having thruster issues

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