NASA Probe Lucy: Second Solar Collector to be Fully Open

NASA Probe Lucy: Second Solar Collector to be Fully Open

More than half a year after the launch of NASA’s Lucy probe, the US space agency launched another attempt to fully open up the second solar panel. NASA points out that four times since the beginning of May, those responsible have gotten the motors to pull particularly hard on the strap. The data sent by the instrument showed that the voltage of the solar panel was indeed increasing slowly. There are now many other opportunities to do more to bring the collector to its planned state. Extensive ground testing preceded the streamlining, which now included both main and reserve engines.

The Lucy probe, named after an important fossil of the human ancestor Australopithecus afarensis, was launched on 16 October. During their 12-year mission, they will primarily research the so-called Jupiter Trojan. These are asteroids that orbit the Sun in two large groups orbiting Jupiter – one in front of the giant gaseous planet, the other behind it. Primitive celestial bodies are thought to be fossils of planet formation, about which NASA hopes to gain new insights. Lucy is the first mission to be sent to an asteroid, seven of which are to her. In addition, Lucy should also pass the asteroid Donaldjohansson in the main belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is named after the discoverer of the fossil “Lucy”.

The probe gets energy from two large solar collectors, which are supposed to supply enough power to operate the probe and the scientific instruments—even when they are far from the Sun—in Jupiter’s orbit. After take-off he was supposed to open them completely, but it did not work. Preliminary tests showed that only one of the two was increased by 75 to 95 percent. Until it snaps into place, it is held in place by a leash which is supposed to help reveal it. NASA now assuresPreliminary data would suggest that the additional voltage already obtained may be sufficient to continue the mission as planned.

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