NASA team troubleshoots asteroid-bound Lucy across the solar system

Thu, 04 Aug 2022 05:11:47 GMT
Space Daily

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Aug 04, 2022 Following the successful launch of NASA's Lucy spacecraft on Oct...

Teams from NASA and Lucy mission partners quickly came together to troubleshoot.

At one end of the room, an engineer sat with furrowed brow, folding and unfolding a paper plate in the same manner that Lucy's huge circular solar arrays operate.

Within hours, NASA pulled together Lucy's anomaly response team, comprising members from science mission lead Southwest Research Institute in Austin, Texas; mission operations lead NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin; and Northrop Grumman in San Diego, solar array system designer and builder.

"This is a talented team, firmly committed to the success of Lucy," said Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, former Lucy project manager from NASA Goddard.

United in their pursuit to ensure Lucy would reach its fullest potential, the team began an exhaustive deep dive to determine the cause of the issue and develop the best path forward.

To evaluate Lucy's solar array configuration in real time, the team fired thrusters on the spacecraft and gathered data on how those forces made the solar array vibrate.

After months of simulations and testing, NASA decided to move forward with the first option - a multi-step attempt to fully redeploy the solar array.

On seven occasions in May and June, the team commanded the spacecraft to simultaneously run the primary and backup solar array deployment motors.

The mission now estimates that Lucy's solar array is between 353 degrees and 357 degrees open.

Lucy is scheduled to arrive at its first asteroid target in 2025.

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