Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Headshot of Louis Friedman

IKAROS Begins Attitude Control

Posted by Louis D. Friedman

01-07-2010 16:59 CDT

Topics: IKAROS, mission status, solar sailing

The IKAROS spacecraft continues to perform its mission well as its team at the Japan Space Exploration Center moves closer to the first fully controlled solar sail flight. They have now released the second of their two deployable cameras (one news report called it a disposable camera, which I suppose is also true) which took this excellent picture of IKAROS.

IKAROS Sail Deployed

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

IKAROS Sail Deployed
IKAROS sail deployed image taken by DCAM2.

This photo of the sail hovering in space fills me with awe.

Embedded in the sail material are both solar cells for generating solar power and liquid crystal devices (LCD), which can be electrically turned on and off. When the power is on, the sunlight reflection is specular (as in the blue circle in the picture) and when off, the reflection is diffuse (in the red dotted circle). The diffuse reflection causes the area to look white while the specular reflection causes it to look dark. The different reflections create different forces and allow the sail to be turned in a controlled direction, using only sunlight. The team plans to synchronize the LCD on and off with sail spin during the attitude control experiment.

The solar cell power output is also being monitored during the mission -- the success of the power generation will determine the feasibility of combining the solar sail with an electric engine to provide additional propulsion capability for outer planet missions. More information is available on the JAXA website >>

 
See other posts from July 2010

 

Or read more blog entries about: IKAROS, mission status, solar sailing

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Advocacy

Election 2016

Space rarely makes a strong showing in national elections, despite the major state of transition NASA finds itself in today.

Help us catalog and source statements made by candidates referring to civil space issues.

Learn More

Featured Images

Tempel 1
Mercury and Venus from MESSENGER
HiRISE view of Curiosity, sol 1207 (December 29, 2015)
Tiny grains of Martian sand
More Images

Featured Video

Intro Astronomy 2016. Class 2: How We Explore Space

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!