This artist’s concept animation depicts Lucy’s solar array anomaly.Data indicated that one of Lucy’s solar arrays — designed to unfurl like a hand fan — hadn’t fully opened and latched.
Since the solar arrays power the spacecraft’s systems, the team had to figure out what to do next.
Team members from Lockheed Martin’s Mission Support Area outside of Denver, who were in communication with the spacecraft directly, were on the phone.
Without a fully deployed array, would Lucy be able to safely perform the maneuvers needed to accomplish its science mission.
Lucy made a picture-perfect launch on October 16, 2021, but when the spacecraft began to unfurl its solar arrays, it encountered an anomaly.
One of the arrays failed to fully deploy and latch shut, putting the mission at risk.
For months, Lucy’s flight operations team worked meticulously to address the issue and put Lucy back on its solar-powered journey to the Jupiter Trojans.Within hours, NASA pulled together Lucy’s anomaly response team, which included members from science mission lead Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Austin, Texas; mission operations lead NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin; and Northrop Grumman in San Diego, solar array system designer and builder.
These massive solar arrays will power the Lucy spacecraft throughout its entire 4-billion-mile, 12-year journey through space as it heads out to explore Jupiter’s elusive Trojan asteroids.
To evaluate Lucy’s solar array configuration in real-time, the team fired thrusters on the spacecraft and gathered data on how those forces made the solar array vibrate.The second option: use the array as it was – nearly fully deployed and generating more than 90% of its expected power.
Shortly after Lucy launched, one of its solar arrays failed to fully deploy, putting the mission at risk.
This artist’s concept animation depicts Lucy’s solar array anomaly.
On seven occasions in May and June, the team commanded the spacecraft to simultaneously run the primary and backup solar array deployment motors.The mission now estimates that Lucy’s solar array is between 353 degrees and 357 degrees open (out of 360 total degrees for a fully deployed array).
While the array is not fully latched, it is under substantially more tension, making it stable enough for the spacecraft to operate as needed for mission operations
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