NASA's Lucy stretches its fly successful solar panel deployment examination

Apr 8, 2021 09:39 PM ET
  • NASA's Lucy spacecraft has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing of both photovoltaic panels, the final action in taking a look at these vital spacecraft components to prepare for launch this fall. Once the Lucy spacecraft's photovoltaic panels are attached and also completely extended, they could cover a five-story building.
NASA's Lucy stretches its fly successful solar panel deployment examination

Lucy, the 13th mission in NASA's Exploration Program, requires these huge photovoltaic panels as it will run further from the Sun than any type of previous solar-powered space objective. Throughout its 12-year trip of the Trojan planets, the Lucy spacecraft will certainly run a record-breaking 530 million miles (853 million kilometres) from the Sun, beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

" The success of Lucy's last solar array release test noted the end of a lengthy roadway of advancement. With dedication as well as excellent interest to detail, the team overcame every challenge to ready these solar panels," claimed Matt Cox, Lockheed Martin's Lucy program supervisor, in Littleton, Colorado. "Lucy will take a trip farther from the Sun than any kind of previous solar-powered Discovery-class goal, as well as one factor we can do that is the innovation in these solar arrays."

The solar arrays, produced by Northrop Grumman in Goleta, California, will certainly be supplying power to the spacecraft and also its instruments throughout the 12-year mission. The photovoltaic panels need to provide around 500 watts, about equivalent to the energy needed to run a cleaning maker. Despite this reasonably moderate requirement, the photovoltaic panels have to be huge as they require to operate up until now from the Sun.

" At regarding one hour after the spacecraft launches, the photovoltaic panels will need to release perfectly in order to assure that we have sufficient power to power the spacecraft throughout the objective," claimed Principal Investigator Hal Levison of the Southwest Institute in Rock, Colorado. "These 20 mins will certainly identify if the rest of the 12 year mission will certainly be an success. Mars landers have their seven mins of fear, we have this."

Solar array implementation examinations happened in between December 2020 and also February 2021 in the 29-foot-by-65-foot (8.8-meter-by-19.8- meter) thermal vacuum cleaner chamber at Lockheed Martin Space, where the spacecraft is presently going through setting up, launch, as well as screening procedures.

Though when folded up the photovoltaic panels are a plain 4 inches (10 centimeters) thick, when increased each solar panel has a diameter of virtually 24 feet (7.3 meters). What is even more, the solar arrays can not support their very own weight of 170 pounds (77kg) each in Earth gravity, so an unique precision weight offload gadget is employed inside the chamber for extra assistance.

" Despite their complexity and size, the mechanical release of the arrays performed faultlessly, claimed Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy task supervisor from NASA's Goddard Space Trip Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "The ingenuity and also innovation of the group is genuinely remarkable!"

These crucial examinations bring the spacecraft one step closer to introduce preparedness. The Lucy spacecraft will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida this summer season to ready it for launch when its home window opens up in the pre-dawn hrs of Oct. 16, 2021.

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