NASA’s Lucy spacecraft cruises 30 million kilometers from Earth – Solar panel testing continues

NASA’s Lucy mission is the first spacecraft launched to explore the Trojan asteroids, a population of primitive asteroids orbiting in tandem with Jupiter. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The Lucy spacecraft, launched on October 16, 2021, is now more than 30 million miles, or 48 million kilometers, from Earth and continues to operate safely in “outbound cruise” mode. Besides a solar panel that did not lock after deployment – an issue the mission team is working to resolve – all spacecraft systems are normal. The grids produce abundant energy, charging the spacecraft’s battery as expected under normal operating conditions.

The current plan supports an attempted lockdown in late April; however, the team continues to explore the possibility of leaving the network as is. Meanwhile, in the lab, they are testing a deployment of dual-motor solar panels that use both the main motor and the standby motor. The tests aim to determine if engaging both motors at the same time applies enough force to complete the deployment and lock the solar panel.

In addition to solar panel activity, the team continues to perform routine operations on the spacecraft. The next activity is to calibrate the guidance, navigation and control equipment to ensure pointing precision of the spaceship.

On January 5, Lucy performed a test to examine the dynamics of the spacecraft in order to characterize the solar panel.

About Travis Durham

Check Also

NASA Recognizes Montana Teachers

HELENA – NASA has recognized 2 teachers from Montana for their teaching at the Montana …