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Emily LakdawallaMay 25, 2010

Initial checkout of IKAROS complete

JAXA has posted a short update on their solar sailcraft IKAROS, stating:

IKAROS moves to Verification Experiment Phase

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) completed the initial operation check...We will take a few weeks to carry out the first verification experiments, namely deployment of the solar sail and solar power generation by thin film solar cells.

My interpretation of this update (and let me be clear, this is just an interpretation, based on no more information than what I posted above) is that the all the instrument and systems checkouts have been completed, and the spacecraft is operating normally; so now they are ready to proceed toward the delicate operation of sail deployment.

JAXA posted this graphic along with the update. It seems to indicate that "deployment start" has been "completed," but I'm not sure exactly what "deployment start" means in this context! I can't imagine that, given the content of the text update, the sails have actually been deployed.

IKAROS mission outline

JAXA

IKAROS mission outline

Meanwhile, on May 21, the student-built Venus-bound spacecraft Shin-en (UNITEC-1)'s operators reported that its signal had been received.

Read more: IKAROS, mission status

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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