A stubborn solar array on NASA’s Lucy mission may produce enough to allow the mission to continue its asteroid-hunting mission with some problems, NASA reports.
The agency said it had made “significant progress” in dealing with a solar array on the planet Lucy’s mission which failed to fully deploy after the launch of the spacecraft, which took place in October 2021. The engineers were find the mistakes and resolve it It’s for months.
Lucy has two semi-circular solar arrays each 24 feet (7 meters) wide and designed to unfold like a fan. Arrays are critical in providing power to the mission, but one of the arrays had a problem during deployment. An update in January stated that at the time, the second set was a file Slightly less than 350 degrees spreadbecause of problem with the rope.
But on Thursday (June 28), NASA officials said Lucy’s team managed to open the matrix between 353 degrees and 357 degrees. (Full success would be 360 degrees.)
Agency officials added in a Blog post (Opens in a new tab). “The mission team is increasingly confident that the solar array will successfully meet the mission’s needs in its current tense and stable state.”
However, NASA must now halt its efforts to assist Lucy because the spacecraft is moving to a location where it cannot easily receive commands from its humans again. a land.
“Due to thermal constraints caused by the relative positions of Earth, spacecraft, and the Sun, the spacecraft will not be able to communicate with Earth via its high-gain antenna for several months,” NASA officials wrote.
While engineers can keep in touch with Lucy through a low-gain antenna, this transmitter can process less data. Full communications should resume in October, according to NASA. On October 16, Lucy will fly to Earth to pick up speed on her journey to Nine Trojan asteroids It orbits the Sun at the same distance as Jupiter; The spacecraft will also come out of partial blackout at that time.
The officials wrote in the post that NASA may attempt to deploy this challenging solar system further while the spacecraft remains nearby “if necessary.”
NASA indicated that Lucy successfully completed a course correction maneuver on June 21.
Although the spacecraft receives a great deal of power while in close proximity to Earth, the arrays will need to be near full deployment to generate enough electricity in orbit. Jupiter, where sunlight is dimmer. The gas giant’s massive planet has an average orbital distance of 484 million miles (778 million km) from the Sun, nearly five times more than Earth.
Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, which orbit the Sun in front and behind the planet. These small worlds may contain remnants of the first Solar System In return, provide information about how the neighborhood we live in is shaped.