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Lucy’s solar panel problem could be due to strap

According to the engineering team for the Lucy asteroid mission, they now think the incomplete deployment of one of the probe’s solar panels was caused by a strap.

The joint Anomaly Response Team has been studying the array using an engineering model. Initial tests indicate that the lanyard that pulls out the solar array may not have completed the process successfully; however, it is still uncertain what caused this condition. The team is conducting more tests to determine if this is indeed the case, and what the root cause might be.

An attempt to characterize the array deployment by attempting to move it would occur no earlier than Nov. 16.

Meanwhile, they have been turning on Lucy’s instruments one by one, with everything functioning as planned, except for that one solar panel. The panel however is a serious concern, as the spacecraft is heading out to the orbit of Jupiter, where it will need every inch of solar panel surface area to get enough power to operate. At the moment it appears the panel is deployed somewhere between 75% to 95%.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • concerned

    And this simple solar panel is like a toy compared to the origami on steroids known as JWST that is about to be launched. Cognizant engineers and managers: make sure your Maalox supply is well stocked.

  • mpthompson

    Seems like we need to start including small robots with these probes that have Swiss Army-like end effectors that could help with diagnosing and then potentially correct such issues. The Galileo probe to Jupiter had a similar problem with the antenna where one of the spars failed to be released from its launch position which caused complete failure of the antenna. Fortunately, much of that mission could be salvaged by innovative uses of the small low-gain antenna and compression algorithms.

  • TB

    I suspect they will manage ways around this, much the same way they managed to work around the badly-deployed Galileo high-gain antenna.

    That said, plutonium is the way to go for deep space missions. See also: Mars rovers.

  • Gealon

    I’ll say it again, why didn’t this thing have rectangular panels? Juno has them and it works fine, not counting that stuck valve. These circular panels are unnecessarily complicated. And once more my K. I. S. S. sensibilities are enraged. Time for more tea.

  • Edward

    mpthompson suggested: “Seems like we need to start including small robots with these probes that have Swiss Army-like end effectors that could help with diagnosing and then potentially correct such issues.

    Sounds like we are giving up on reliability and depending upon a robot for repairing the results of our laziness. Unless there isn’t reliability for the robot and the mission is harmed or lost anyway.

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