MSSS Signs Contract with Lockheed Martin for 2021 Lucy Jupiter Trojan Mission

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Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) has signed a contract with Lockheed Martin Space to provide cameras for the Lucy mission. Lucy will conduct the first reconnaissance of the Trojan asteroids, which lie in the gravitationally-stable Lagrange points L4 and L5 in the orbit of Jupiter. The Lucy mission will launch in 2021 and will fly by six of these asteroids between 2025 and 2033.

Lucy is a NASA Discovery mission, led by Dr. Harold F. Levison from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.  NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland manages the mission for NASA. Lockheed Martin is building the Lucy spacecraft and will operate it in flight from its Mission Support Area in Denver, Colorado.

MSSS will provide a system called the Terminal Tracking Camera (T2CAM), a version of MSSS's off-the-shelf ECAM space camera product line, with mission-specific enhancements to its optics, digital logic, and software. The two redundant cameras are ECAM-M50s, with the standard ECAM NFOV lens system (see image of a flight ECAM-M50 with a NFOV lens), and the cameras are controlled by an ECAM-DVR8 (see image of ORISIS-REx TAGCAMS ECAM-DVR8).

T2CAM will be used to resolve residual navigation errors on approach, which enables high precision pointing of Lucy’s instruments. It will also be used to perform opportunistic science, such as photometric studies and shape modeling of the asteroids.

Jacob Schaffner, lead engineer of ECAM development at MSSS, said, "Although the ECAM system was originally intended for engineering purposes, we're gratified by the number of mixed-use and science applications our customers have found for it. We feel that our science experience positions us to offer the most cost-effective and capable imaging systems currently available." MSSS has a long history of building and operating science instruments for NASA spacecraft, most recently the Curiosity Mars rover and the Juno mission to Jupiter, and is currently building instruments for the Mars 2020 rover, the Psyche mission to the asteroid of the same name, and the Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, as well as engineering cameras for a wide variety of Earth orbiting missions. For Lockheed Martin, MSSS provided the ECAM-based TAGCAMS system for the OSIRIS-REx mission, which will arrive at its target, the asteroid Bennu, later this year. T2Cam on Lucy will be very similar in performance to TAGCAMS, which is illustrated by the TAGCAMS images of the Earth and Moon acquired during the OSIRIS-REx Earth Gravity Assist maneuver in 2017 (see images below).


ECAM-M50 with NFOV lens

Figure 1. An ECAM-M50 (Monochrome) with NFOV (Narrow Field of View) lens.
The T2CAM camera heads will look the same as this flight camera from another program. Pocket knife for scale.


Digital Video Recorder, 8-port

Figure 2.  ECAM-DVR8. Digital Video Recorder (8-port) provides command sequencing, image processing, compression, and storage.
Pocket knife for scale.


Earth and Moon image acquired by TAGCAMS

Figure 3.  Black-and-white image of the Earth-Moon system was captured on Sept. 25, 2017 by NavCam 1.


Earth during OSIRIS-REx Earth Gravity Assist maneuver in 2017

Figure 4.  The first image taken by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft after completion of its Earth Gravity Assist maneuver on Sept. 22, 2017.

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