Even two weeks after launch, not one of the solar panels on NASA’s Lucy probe had fully opened. The US space agency has announced that tests now conducted have shown that the complex has only been stretched by 75 to 95 percent. It is currently held in place by a strap that is supposed to help open it.
In fact, it should have reached its final position shortly after takeoff. The team is still trying to figure out why that didn’t work. At the same time, possible options are being discussed, including whether the solar collector can be left in its current state. Meanwhile, Lucy herself is stable in flight mode and successfully carried out several planned maneuvers.
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The Lucy probe, named after an important fossil of the human ancestor Australopithecus afarensis, was launched on October 16. During her 12-year mission, she will primarily research what is called Jupiter of Troy. These are asteroids that orbit the Sun in the orbit of Jupiter in two large groups – one in front of the gas giant, and one behind. Primordial celestial bodies are considered planet-forming fossils, which NASA hopes to gain new knowledge about.
Lucy is the first ever mission to be sent to the asteroids, where he will visit seven of them: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus and Menoetius. Lucy is also supposed to 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”.
Lucy gets its power from two large solar collectors, which are supposed to provide enough electricity to power the probe and scientific instruments even far from the sun, in Jupiter’s orbit. Even if fully deployed, that would be only about three percent of the energy that could be generated in Earth’s orbit. Therefore, the researchers’ priority should be to reach a successful result with unsuccessful detection. If it starts, then at the earliest on November 16th, Joint NASA Still with and “all other systems are working normally”.
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