NASA Investigating Lucy Spacecraft Solar Array Issue

An artist’s concept of the Lucy spacecraft among asteroids.

Article: NASA investigating issue with Lucy solar array – SpaceNews

NASA engineers are currently investigating why a solar array on the Lucy spacecraft did not lock into place after deployment. After separating from the Atlas V rocket that launched it, the solar arrays were to deploy and lock, leading the engineers to believe that the solar array in question is not fully latched. While, currently, Lucy is otherwise operating normally, this could cause significant problems for the craft down the line, as the solar arrays were specifically designed to be able to generate enough electricity to enable Lucy to travel to Jupiter’s distance and examine the asteroid belt and Jupiter’s trojans, where sunlight is more sparse. Therefore, the engineers will need to work quickly to figure out the cause of the issue and implement a fix. This issue exposes a possible new attack vector against the Lucy spacecraft, as the fix will need to be implemented remotely, and a hacker could potentially emulate the method used to deploy this fix to cause issues. Additionally, Lucy’s solar panels might be seen as a potential weak point to exploit. Given how critical space operations are to nations around the world, including us, and any new weak point in our space technology presents an opportunity for entities to try to derail us, including other nation-states.

The Lucy Spacecraft and one of its two solar arrays.