Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

NASA issues vague update on Lucy’s solar panel deployment issue.

Lucy solar panel graphic

NASA today released a very vague update describing the work of the Lucy engineering team in trying to work out a fix to the incomplete deployment of one of Lucy’s solar panels.

A project team completed an assessment Dec. 1 of the ongoing solar array issue, which did not appear to fully deploy as planned after launch in late October. Initial ground tests determined additional motor operations are required to increase the probability of the latching Lucy’s array in place as intended, and the team has recommended additional testing.

Spacecraft operations included discharging and charging the battery while pointed at Earth, moving the spacecraft to point to the Sun, operating the solar array motor with the launch day parameters, moving back to pointing at Earth, and then another battery discharge and recharge. The solar arrays charge the batteries, then the batteries are deliberately discharged, and the solar array circuits are used to recharge the batteries; performing these charging and discharging processes gives the team more information about the solar array circuits.

The team gathered information on two of the 10 gores – the individual solar array panel segments that make up the full array — that previously had no data. NASA now has data on all 10 gores confirming they are open, producing power as expected, and not stuck together. [emphasis mine]

Apparently they have been doing a variety of testing of the array to assess its precise condition. The highlighted words are the most important, as this data suggests that all ten fan sections, as shown in the graphic above, are partly open, and that an attempt to fully deploy the solar panel should work.

The Lucy team has apparently decided to approach this work very slowly and cautiously, that they have time to do so as Lucy continues its slow journey to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.


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  • Mitch S.

    Didn’t strike me as objectionably “very vague”, just a quick non-technical update.
    But as you highlighted, it contains the key good news that all the gores are producing power as expected.
    “Gores”, don’t recall hearing that term before. Have they named solar panels after Al Gore?

  • Edward

    Mitch S.,
    It is unusual, but aerospace uses quite a few unusual words and terms. Here is a dictionary definition, scroll down to the third definition:


    1. a triangular piece of material inserted in a garment, sail, etc., to give it greater width or a desired shape.
    2. one of the panels, usually tapering or shaped, making up a garment, as a skirt.
    3. a triangular tract of land, especially one lying between larger divisions.

  • Alton

    At least the panel is not having a Gorebasm as Rush used to say about the DIMS reaction to the CCCPs former General Secretary.

  • Mitch S. asked: “Have they named solar panels after Al Gore?”

    Couldn’t, really. Despite inventing the Internet, Al Gore is an entity that takes in energy without return, unlike sola panels.

  • JP Walsh

    Gore refers to a “triangular segment”.

    As a term, it appears in dressmaking, and cartography.

    The Great State of Maine has at least 4 named Gores: Coburn, Hibberts, Misery and Moxie.
    I believe all are results of surveying errors, which were then committed to paper on the official map.

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