NASA Lucy Team Postpones Operations As They Focus on Solar Array Glitch

Lucy will explore the Jupiter Trojan asteroids – thought to be “fossils of planet formation.” Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

After successful separation from the rocket on October 16, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft deployed both solar arrays. Soon after deployment, NASA received confirmation that one of the solar arrays was fully deployed and latched. Analysis currently shows the second solar array is partially unfurled. The team continues to look at all available engineering data to establish how far it is deployed. That solar array is generating nearly the expected power when compared to the fully deployed wing. This power level is enough to keep the spacecraft healthy and functioning.

The Lucy spacecraft has remained in safe mode and is transitioning to cruise mode today. This mode has increased autonomy and spacecraft configuration changes, which is necessary as Lucy moves away from Earth. The team continues its assessment and an attempt to fully deploy the solar array is planned no earlier than the end of next week.

Lucy has successfully fired thrusters to slew the spacecraft with the current array configuration and will safely continue with desaturation maneuvers — small thruster firings to manage the spacecraft’s momentum — as planned.

The operations team has temporarily postponed the deployment of the instrument pointing platform to focus on resolving solar array deployment. The operations team continues to execute all other planned post-launch activities. The ULA Atlas V rocket delivered Lucy precisely to the target point at separation, and so a backup maneuver called the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM-1) is unnecessary and has therefore been canceled. The first maneuver will now be what’s known as TCM-2, currently scheduled for mid-December.

The project is evaluating whether there are any long-term implications to other scheduled activities.

Lucy MissionNASA
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  • Eric Jones

    And a glitch??? Amazing. The Webb space tel3sope will probably have a glitch too, and the program is too ignorant about design failings to have a little robotic video observer to give something a little bump when needed. Sad.

  • Corby

    And will they do with vídeo when they already have sensors to return status? Post it on youtube or something? What do you understand about probes design? “Probably” nothing judging by your fantastic ideas. Lol