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Emily LakdawallaJune 15, 2010

IKAROS' deployable camera captures perfect sail photos and animation!

EDIT 10:35 PM: Animation added at the bottom of this post.

I've been watching and waiting for these photos for days! We've already seen IKAROS' view of its deployed sails from cameras attached to the spacecraft, but, in a brilliant idea, the Japanese built IKAROS with two deployable cameras that could view the thing from a distance. They're two tiny little things, I think only about 5 centimeters across, that just get shot out (gently) from the spacecraft and wirelessly transmit their photos to it. And such photos! So cool!

First, a closeup:

IKAROS spacecraft from DCAM2

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IKAROS spacecraft from DCAM2
DCAM2 is a tiny camera deployed by IKAROS to photograph its sail after deployment; it captured this view after sail deployment was complete, transmitting the images wirelessly to the spacecraft.

And here's the money shot, the distant view -- so square, exactly as it should be! Awesome.

IKAROS sail from DCAM2

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IKAROS sail from DCAM2
One of the deployable cameras on IKAROS shows the IKAROS solar sail fully deployed.

Here's a diagram showing where the cameras were positioned on the spacecraft, and a closeup of the tiny things. In the first picture I posted above, you can see the hole on the spacecraft where the camera came from.

Location of DCAM1 and DCAM2 on IKAROS

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Location of DCAM1 and DCAM2 on IKAROS

So cool! That's all the analysis I have time for -- it's the kids' bathtime -- but I'll write more tomorrow.

EDIT: One more thing to add before going to bed: an animation, taken by DCAM2 as it receded from the sail (from here). Again, so cool.

DCAM2's view of IKAROS

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DCAM2's view of IKAROS
A 32-frame animation from the deployable camera DCAM2 on IKAROS. The camera rotated as it receded, producing the apparent spin of the sail.

Read more: IKAROS, pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, mission status, solar sailing, spacecraft

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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