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NASA Pauses Makes an attempt to Repair Lucy’s Pesky Photo voltaic Array

An illustration of the Lucy spacecraft with each of its round photo voltaic arrays absolutely deployed.
Illustration: Southwest Analysis Institute

NASA is taking a break from makes an attempt to unfurl a finicky photo voltaic array on the Lucy spacecraft, claiming that the probe is too chilly and that efforts at deploying the array might be extra fruitful when Lucy is nearer to the Solar in December 2024.

After launching in October 2021, one of many spacecraft’s two 24-foot-wide (7-meter-wide) photo voltaic arrays, which provides energy to Lucy, failed to fully unfurl, remaining caught in an unlatched place. Whereas NASA has made previous attempts to fully deploy the array, the company introduced in a weblog publish that the Lucy staff can be suspending makes an attempt to utterly unfurl the array, saying the spacecraft is too chilly.

That stated, NASA’s not sweating the difficulty, and estimated in a blog post that the array is 98% deployed and can be capable of stand up to the rest of Lucy’s 12-year mission to go to Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids, which orbit each forward and behind the fuel big.

Extra on this story: 7 Things to Know About NASA’s First Mission to the Jupiter Trojan Asteroids

“Floor-based testing indicated that the deployment makes an attempt have been most efficient whereas the spacecraft was hotter, nearer to the Solar,” NASA communication officer Erin Morton wrote within the publish final week. “Because the spacecraft is presently 123 million miles (197 million kilometers) from the Solar (1.3 occasions farther from the Solar than the Earth) and transferring away at 20,000 mph (35,000 km/hr), the staff doesn’t anticipate additional deployment makes an attempt to be useful beneath current circumstances.”

NASA noticed issues with the solar array shortly after the mission’s launch, and deduced that it was a loss in stress in a lanyard used to unfurl the round array. Lucy is now hurtling away from the Solar, getting colder and colder, however will return to Earth for a gravity help in December 2024. Presently, the Lucy staff hopes that spacecraft can be heat sufficient to attempt once more.

Within the meantime, the staff behind Lucy can be accumulating information on the misbehaving photo voltaic array to see the way it operates at its barely incapacitated state as Lucy continues its mission to go to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroid clusters.

More: NASA’s Moon-Certain Lunar Flashlight Is Experiencing Thruster Points

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