On April 18, NASA determined to maneuver ahead with plans to finish the deployment of the Lucy spacecraft’s stalled, unlatched solar array. The spacecraft is powered by two massive arrays of solar cells that had been designed to unfold and latch into place after launch. One of the fan-like arrays opened as deliberate, however the different stopped simply in need of finishing this operation.
Through a mix of rigorous in-flight solar array characterization and floor testing, Lucy engineers decided the unlatched solar array is almost totally open, positioned at roughly 345 out of the total 360 levels, and is producing ample vitality for the spacecraft. Nonetheless, the crew is anxious about potential injury to the array if the spacecraft conducts a predominant engine burn in its current configuration.
After launch, the arrays had been opened by a small motor that reels in a lanyard connected to each ends of the folded solar array. The crew estimates that 20 to 40 inches of this lanyard (out of roughly 290 inches total) stays to be retracted for the open array to latch.
The solar array was designed with each a major and a backup motor winding to present an added layer of reliability for the mission-critical solar array deployment. Lucy engineers will make the most of this redundancy through the use of each motors concurrently to generate greater torque than was used on the day of launch. Ground checks present that this added torque could also be sufficient to drag the snarled lanyard the remaining distance wanted to latch.
The crew is now getting ready to finish the solar array deployment in two steps. The first step, tentatively scheduled for the week of May 9, is meant to drag in many of the remaining lanyard and confirm that flight outcomes are according to floor testing. This step may even strengthen the array by bringing it nearer to a completely tensioned state. Because this step is designed to be restricted in length, the array will not be prone to latch at that time.
If this step goes as deliberate, the second step will proceed the array deployment with the intent to completely latch. Information gleaned from the primary half will assist fine-tune the second. The second step is at present deliberate for a month after the preliminary one, giving engineers sufficient time to research the information seen within the first try.
NASA’s Lucy mission is a ‘go’ for solar array deployment try (2022, April 21)
retrieved 21 April 2022
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