NASA's Lucy team successfully completed one of the two steps required to deploy one of Lucy's arrays. What’s next?

11/05/2022
Credit image: Southwest Research Institute/NASA - This illustration shows the Lucy spacecraft passing one of the Trojan Asteroids near Jupiter.
Credit image: Southwest Research Institute/NASA - This illustration shows the Lucy spacecraft passing one of the Trojan Asteroids near Jupiter.

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 11 May 2022, at 08:45 am Los Angeles time

According to NASA engineers, one of the arrays is fully open, but the other is partially open.

However, on April 18, NASA decided to move forward with plans to complete the deployment of the blocked and unblocked solar network of the Lucy spacecraft.

Going forward with these networks without the ship's arrays being completely open is how and how.

In a way, nothing very serious can happen, because the array problem is open at 345 degrees out of a total of 360 degrees, and NASA says it produces enough energy for the spacecraft, no significant problems yet.

But in a way, NASA's team of engineers is also worried about the potential damage to the array if the spacecraft would conduct the main engine burn in its current configuration.

"After launch, the arrays were opened by a small motor that reels in a lanyard attached to both ends of the folded solar array. The team estimates that 20 to 40 inches of this lanyard (out of approximately 290 inches total) remains to be retracted for the open array to latch," said NASA.

According to the plan, the solar network was designed with a primary motor winding and a spare motor winding.

Given the situation, the ground tests, the analysis by the engineers, and the technical plan of the Lucy mission, NASA engineers use both engines simultaneously to generate more torque than was used on launch day, to pull the string as needed, to stay the required distance to lock.

Thus, NASA engineers have determined that the problem array will be developed in two steps.

1. Provisionally scheduled for May 9 (2022) by which the string will be pulled as long as it does not lock (until a state is almost completely tense).

2. If all goes well in step 1, data will be used to pull the string until the array locks.

The first of these has already been done, on May 9, 2022, as planned.

This means that engineers should take the second and final step for the array to be deployed safely.

But until then, NASA has announced that more tests will be done to determine the success of the first step.

The engineers' effort continues to bring the spacecraft into the perfect situation for its mission.

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