NASA Team Troubleshoots Asteroid-Bound Lucy Across Millions of Miles

Following the successful launch of NASA’s Lucy spacecraft on Oct. 16, 2021, a group of engineers huddled around a long conference table in Titusville, Florida. Lucy was mere hours into its 12-year flight, but an unexpected challenge had surfaced for the first-ever Trojan asteroids mission.
Data indicated that one of Lucy’s solar arrays powering the spacecraft’s systems — designed to unfurl like a hand fan — hadn’t fully opened and latched, and the team was figuring out what to do next.
Teams from NASA and Lucy mission partners quickly came together to troubleshoot. On the phone were team members at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Support Area outside of Denver, who were in direct contact with the spacecraft.
The conversation was quiet, yet intense. 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.
There were so many questions. What happened? Was the array open at all? Was there a way to fix it? Would Lucy be able to safely perform the maneuvers needed to accomplish its science mission without a fully deployed array?
With Lucy already speeding on its way through space, the stakes were high.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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