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Attempts continue to block the solar panels of NASA’s Lucy probe

On October 16, 2021, a NASA’s Lucy probe It is directed towards Trojan asteroids near the orbit of Jupiter. But a few days after launch, it appeared problem for one of Solar Panels which are not held in place, reducing the ability to generate power for use in on-board systems.

NASA Lucy

Although unexpected, the mission was not canceled and continued as planned. However, the space agency’s engineers did not give up, and over the months sought new strategies to allow the solar panels to be locked in position in order to improve the probe’s overall performance (especially when it is very far from the Sun).

NASA Lucy and Uninstalled Solar Panels

in the last job On the official blog From the mission refers to an attempt on May 9, 2022 where the mission leadership sent instructions to the investigation to attempt to complete the deployment and Solar Panels. In particular, the motor energizing command was sent to open the array using both the main motor and reserve motor windings (with the aim of increasing the available torque).

According to the data collected after the test, everything happened as in simulated actions on Earth “Withdrawal” Plus the system that allows the solar panels to open (with a part still to be pulled out). Next team NASA Lucy Then try again on May 12th to send the same commands to try to get more improvements.

NASA Lucy

According to reports, this part of the solar panel has not been completely banned. However, better diffusion was achieved by increasing the voltage and stabilizing the arrays. Then it moved to May 26 where the orders were sent again.

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The procedure used was the same as in the previous two attempts with both motors (main and backup) running for a short period of time so that they did not overheat. The data showed how the matrix continued to open and I tried to retry on June 2. Again, the solar panels have not clogged but open and harden.

The team does not necessarily expect that there will be a blockage in the panels (as nominal) but through stiffening they can remain in place and thus still be able to finish Expedition From NASA Lucy. Moreover, on June 7, a course correction maneuver was carried out, with the aim of obtaining the help of Earth’s gravity in mid-October 2022.

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