NASA’s Lucy mission may have encountered a solar array problem

According to foreign media reports, on Saturday, local time, NASA had a big reason to celebrate with the successful launch of “Lucy”, which it hopes to use to investigate the asteroid locked in the orbit of Jupiter. Less than 48 hours later, however, the Lucy appears to have hit its first hurdle. One of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays may not be properly locked in place.

  NASA’s Lucy mission may have encountered a solar array problem

It is reported that each battery array is a set of solar panels, “Lucy” will be used to power its exploration.

“Lucy’s two solar arrays are deployed and both generating electricity and the batteries are still charging,” NASA wrote in a blog post on Sunday. “While one of the arrays is locked, there are indications that The second array may not be fully locked. In the current spacecraft attitude, ‘Lucy’ can continue to operate with no threat to its health and safety. The team is analyzing the spacecraft data to understand the situation and determine the next steps to achieve Full deployment of solar arrays.”

It is understood that the two solar panels were folded during the launch of “Lucy” and unfolded like fans when the spacecraft entered orbit. The panels are expected to take 20 minutes to fully deploy, which the mission’s principal investigator said will “determine whether the rest of the 12-year mission will be successful”. The solar panel successfully deployed 91 minutes after launch, it’s now just a matter of getting the second panel to latch on properly.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, tweeted that he believes the array issue will be resolved soon. “NASA’s ‘Lucy’ mission is safe and stable. Two solar arrays have been deployed, but one may not be fully locked. The team is analyzing the data to determine next steps. The team has overcome many challenges, I’m sure they will win here too.”

It is understood that the goal of “Lucy” is to explore the Trojan asteroids, a group of asteroids in the orbit of Jupiter that have never been studied at close range before. These Trojan asteroids move in huge swarms, or camps, at the “Lagrange points” of Jupiter’s orbit. Lagrangian points are regions where the push and pull of gravity locks the camp, leading and tracking Jupiter permanently in its journey around the sun.

Like a series of cosmic fossils, these amorphous space rocks offer a window into the earliest days of our solar system (about 4.6 billion years ago). Lucy will play the role of a cosmic paleontologist, flying over the eight different “fossils” in the distance and studying their surfaces with infrared imagers and cameras.

Author: Yoyokuo