NASA’S 12-Year-Long Lucy Mission Is Already Experiencing ‘Issues’

by Courtney Blackann
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On October 16, NASA launched its latest project into the sky. The Lucy spacecraft is on a long journey to learn about fossils of the solar system. Scientists believe by studying these fossils, we can gather material and learn more about how planets formed 4.5 billion years ago. However, Lucy is already having a few issues just two days into her mission.

Powered by solar arrays, Lucy will travel 4 billion miles over the next 12 years. However, one of these solar arrays has not locked into place. After its launch, the solar arrays deployed after an hour and a half. They seem to be in working condition despite the hiccup. Scientists are unsure why one of the arrays hasn’t set, however, the spacecraft can still continue on its mission with ‘no issues,’ NASA says.

“In the current spacecraft attitude, Lucy can continue to operate with no threat to its health and safety,’ NASA said in a post on its website. “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.”

Additionally, Scientists will continue to investigate the issue as it continues toward the Trojan Asteroids. The NASA spacecraft launched from the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Saturday morning.

‘NASA’s #LucyMission is safe & stable. The two solar arrays have deployed, but one may not be fully latched,’ Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s science mission director tweeted. 

‘The team is analyzing data to determine the next steps. This team has overcome many challenges already and I am confident they will prevail here as well.’  

What is NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft Studying?

Additionally, if all goes well, Lucy’s mission should be incredibly insightful. Further, the spacecraft will head toward the Trojan Asteroids. These lie on the main belt of the solar system. They are between Jupiter and Mars in orbit. Each asteroid gets its name from Greek mythology: Eurybates, Queta, Polymele, Leucus, Orus, Patroclus, and Menoetius.

Further, NASA scientists also hope that Lucy will provide more information than just studying the ancient material located on each fossil.

“All of the Trojans are thought to be abundant in dark carbon compounds,” NASA stated on its website.”Below an insulating blanket of dust, they are probably rich in water and other volatile substances, dating back to the first days of the solar system. No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun. Lucy will show us, for the first time, the diversity of the primordial bodies that built the planets.”

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