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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