Lucy Instruments Checkout A-OK

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft continues to operate in cruise mode – the standard mode for its orbit away from Earth.

Checkouts for the Lucy instruments were successfully completed Nov. 8, and all instruments are working normally. Following checkout completion, the instruments were powered off, and the remaining spacecraft subsystem commissioning activities are continuing as scheduled.

Lucy’s Solar Array Anomaly Response Team has made progress searching for the cause of the solar array’s incomplete deployment. The team has used an engineering model of the solar array motor and lanyard to replicate what was observed during the initial solar array deployment. The test data and findings suggest the lanyard may not have wound on the spool as intended. Testing continues to determine what caused this outcome, and a range of scenarios are possible. The team isn’t planning to attempt to move or further characterize the current state of the solar array deployment before Wednesday, Dec. 1, at the earliest.

NASA’s Lucy Instruments Powering On and Working Normally

The Lucy spacecraft continues to operate in cruise mode – the standard mode for outbound orbit. The team has begun turning on instruments. L’TES and L’Ralph have been powered on and are working normally. Turning on L’LORRI is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2021. Other than the solar array, all subsystems continue to work normally.

The joint Anomaly Response Team has been studying the array using an engineering model. Initial tests indicate that the lanyard that pulls out the solar array may not have completed the process successfully; however, it is still uncertain what caused this condition. The team is conducting more tests to determine if this is indeed the case, and what the root cause might be.

An attempt to characterize the array deployment by attempting to move it would occur no earlier than Nov. 16.

The response team continues its analysis on using the solar array in its current configuration and how that might affect upcoming spacecraft maneuvers.

Lucy Stable in Cruise Mode

The Lucy spacecraft remains in cruise mode, which is the standard flight mode for outbound flight and allows for substantial autonomy for the spacecraft. The spacecraft has successfully executed several small planned maneuvers, which have had no adverse effect on the one solar array that is not fully deployed. On Oct. 29, NASA will adjust Lucy’s position to point toward Earth in preparation for instrument checkout.

Most recently, the spacecraft’s position was adjusted on Oct. 26 to allow the team to measure how much electric current is moving through the partially deployed solar array and thus understand how close that array is to the fully latched position. Analysis indicates that the array is between 75% and 95% deployed. It is currently being held in place by a lanyard, specifically designed to help unfurl the arrays during deployment.

An anomaly response team continues to work on establishing what caused the solar array to not fully deploy. NASA and SwRI are evaluating a range of options, including the possibility of leaving the array in its current state. Any attempt to safely redeploy the array would occur no earlier than Nov. 16.

All other systems are functioning normally.

Lucy Spacecraft Healthy as NASA Continues Solar Array Assessments

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft successfully transitioned to cruise mode Oct. 20, which is the standard configuration for flight. The following day, the instrument pointing platform was deployed after temporarily being postponed earlier in the week. Both events were normal and raised no concerns. The spacecraft remains stable, power positive, with all other subsystems working, with the exception of one solar array.

The Lucy team is working to understand the current state of the array before attempting to complete deployment. NASA is reviewing spacecraft data, including using techniques to measure how much electric current is produced by the array during various spacecraft positions and attitudes. This will allow the team to understand how close the array is to the latched position. These techniques are well within the capabilities of the system and pose no risk. Any plans for re-deployment will be considered after completing this latest assessment.

The spacecraft continues to travel along its expected trajectory –track its path online.

NASA Team Remains Focused on Lucy’s Solar Arrays

After successful separation from the rocket on Oct. 16, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft deployed both solar arrays. Soon after deployment, NASA received confirmation that one of the solar arrays was fully deployed and latched. Analysis currently shows the second solar array is partially unfurled. The team continues to look at all available engineering data to establish how far it is deployed. That solar array is generating nearly the expected power when compared to the fully deployed wing. This power level is enough to keep the spacecraft healthy and functioning.

The Lucy spacecraft has remained in safe mode and is transitioning to cruise mode today. This mode has increased autonomy and spacecraft configuration changes, which is necessary as Lucy moves away from Earth. The team continues its assessment and an attempt to fully deploy the solar array is planned no earlier than the end of next week.

Lucy has successfully fired thrusters to slew the spacecraft with the current array configuration and will safely continue with desaturation maneuvers — small thruster firings to manage the spacecraft’s momentum — as planned.

The operations team has temporarily postponed the deployment of the instrument pointing platform to focus on resolving solar array deployment. The operations team continues to execute all other planned post-launch activities. The ULA Atlas V rocket delivered Lucy precisely to the target point at separation, and so a backup maneuver called the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM-1) is unnecessary and has therefore been canceled. The first maneuver will now be what’s known as TCM-2, currently scheduled for mid-December.

The project is evaluating whether there are any long-term implications to other scheduled activities.

Lucy Spacecraft Healthy; Solar Arrays Being Analyzed

Following a successful launch on Oct. 16, 2021, analysis of NASA’s Lucy spacecraft systems show the spacecraft is operating well and is stable. Lucy’s two solar arrays have deployed, and both are producing power and the battery is charging. While one of the arrays has latched, indications are that the second array may not be fully latched. All other subsystems are normal. In the current spacecraft attitude, Lucy can continue to operate with no threat to its health and safety. The team is analyzing spacecraft data to understand the situation and determine next steps to achieve full deployment of the solar array.