While our full-time Service Department is great at diagnosing and repairing solar PV issues, this one is just a little outside our wheelhouse and service area. In fact, this will be the most distant solar powered probe into deep space.
NASA’s most recent launch, the Lucy spacecraft is having issues with one of it’s solar arrays. About an hour and a half after Saturday’s launch, during deployment, one of the two solar arrays opened but won’t lock into place.
NASA seems pretty confident they’ll find a solution, just like they did for Apollo 13 so the 12-year mission to study asteroids in Jupiter’s belt should be successful.
The Ultraflex solar panels are designed to open similarly to a Chinese fan and to lock in place. They’ll provide power to the spaceship throughout it’s mission.
The solar PV system opens out to cover an area of about 548 square feet and while near earth, they’ll produce about 18,000 watts but when Lucy gets further away from the sun and close to Jupiter, they’ll only produce about 500 watts. The space station needs about 82 watts of power during each asteroid encounter so there should be plenty of electricity to complete the mission.
Pretty amazing usage of solar power!
If you’re interested in a little more, well, down to earth solar, please give us a call at 206-706-1931 or fill out our webform and tell us about your project.