NASA’s Lucy stretches its wings in successful solar panel deployment test

NASA’s Lucy stretches its wings in successful solar panel deployment test
At 24 toes (7.three meters) throughout every, Lucy’s two photo voltaic panels underwent preliminary deployment in January 2021. On this photograph, a technician at Lockheed Martin House in Denver, Colorado, inspects considered one of Lucy’s arrays throughout its first deployment. These large photo voltaic arrays will energy the Lucy spacecraft all through its whole 4-billion-mile, 12-year journey by means of house because it out to discover Jupiter’s elusive Trojan asteroids. Credit score: Lockheed Martin

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft has efficiently accomplished thermal vacuum testing of each photo voltaic panels, the step in testing these vital spacecraft elements in preparation for launch this fall. As soon as the Lucy spacecraft’s photo voltaic panels are connected and absolutely prolonged, they may cowl a five-story constructing.

Lucy, the 13th mission in NASA’s Discovery , requires these giant photo voltaic panels as it would function farther from the solar than any earlier solar-powered house mission. Throughout its 12-year tour of the Trojan asteroids, the Lucy spacecraft will function a record-breaking 530 million miles (853 million km) from the solar, past the orbit of Jupiter.

“The success of Lucy’s ultimate photo voltaic array deployment check marked the tip of an extended street of growth. With dedication and glorious consideration to element, the workforce overcame each impediment to prepared these photo voltaic panels,” stated Matt Cox, Lockheed Martin’s Lucy program supervisor, in Littleton, Colorado. “Lucy will journey farther from the solar than any earlier solar-powered Discovery-class mission, and one motive we are able to do that’s the expertise in these photo voltaic arrays.”

The photo voltaic arrays, manufactured by Northrop Grumman in Goleta, California, will probably be supplying energy to the spacecraft and its devices all through the 12-year mission. The photo voltaic panels want to provide round 500 watts, about equal to the vitality wanted to run a washer. Regardless of this comparatively modest want, the photo voltaic panels should be giant as they should function so removed from the solar.

NASA’s Lucy stretches its wings in successful solar panel deployment test
Seen right here partially unfurled, the Lucy spacecraft’s large photo voltaic arrays accomplished their first deployment checks in January 2021 contained in the thermal vacuum chamber at Lockheed Martin House in Denver, Colorado. To make sure no additional pressure was positioned on the photo voltaic arrays throughout testing in Earth’s gravity atmosphere, the workforce designed a particular mesh wire harness to help the arrays throughout deployment. Credit score: Lockheed Martin

“At about one hour after the spacecraft launches, the photo voltaic panels might want to deploy flawlessly to be able to guarantee that now we have sufficient vitality to energy the spacecraft all through the mission,” stated Principal Investigator Hal Levison of the Southwest Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These 20 minutes will decide if the remainder of the 12 12 months mission will probably be an success. Mars landers have their seven minutes of terror, now we have this.”

Photo voltaic array deployment checks occurred between December 2020 and February 2021 within the 29-foot-by-65-foot (8.8-meter-by-19.8-meter) thermal vacuum chamber at Lockheed Martin House, the place the spacecraft is presently present process meeting, launch, and testing operations.

Although when folded up the photo voltaic panels are a mere Four inches (10 cm) thick, as soon as expanded every photo voltaic panel has a diameter of practically 24 toes (7.three meters). What’s extra, the photo voltaic arrays cannot help their very own weight of 170 kilos (77kg) every in Earth gravity, so a particular precision weight offload system is employed contained in the chamber for added help.

“Despite their complexity and measurement, the mechanical deployment of the arrays executed flawlessly, stated Donya Douglas-Bradshaw, Lucy challenge supervisor from NASA’s Goddard House Flight in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The ingenuity and innovation of the workforce is actually exceptional!”

These key checks convey the spacecraft one step nearer to launch readiness. The Lucy spacecraft will probably be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy House Heart in Florida this summer time to prepared it for launch when its window opens within the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 16, 2021.

NASA’s first mission to the trojan asteroids installs its ultimate scientific instrument

Supplied by
NASA’s Goddard House Flight Heart

NASA’s Lucy stretches its wings in profitable photo voltaic panel deployment check (2021, April 7)
retrieved 7 April 2021

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