Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Anticipating the close flyby of asteroid 2005 YU55 yesterday, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory invited media to tour Goldstone, one of three facilities that make up NASA's Deep Space Network. I've always wanted to see these massive radio dishes up close, so I jumped at the chance!
JAXA's solar sail demonstration craft IKAROS is still puttering along, 17 months after it launched, and its controllers back on Earth keep coming up with new things to try with it. I'm pretty amazed by the most recent trick: reversing its spin direction. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is, especially for IKAROS.
Here's a lovely picture from the Canberra DSN this morning, showing two of the workhorse 34-meter antennas communicating with the nearby GRAIL spacecraft. In the distance, the huge DSS-43 talks to the solar observatory STEREO-B.
The first full scale deployment of the Planetary Society's LightSail 1 solar sail was conducted on March 4, 2011 at Stellar Exploration in San Luis Obispo, California.
NASA announced that the Planetary Society’s LightSail 1 solar sail mission is on their short list for upcoming launch opportunities. The missions selected are CubeSats destined for piggyback launches as part of NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative.
NASA's Nanosail-D spacecraft surprised everyone, including its controllers, by suddenly deploying from its parent FASTSAT spacecraft and beginning its mission in space.
It was once thought lost in space, but it looks like NanoSail-D has ejected from its FastSat carrier and is preparing for deployment.
Japan's IKAROS team stole the show at the International Solar Sailing Symposium in New York City, where they announced that their spacecraft had achieved controlled solar sail flight.
While we were in New York for the International Solar Sailing Symposium last week, we held a meeting with the Japanese IKAROS team to discuss technical results and issues in our two projects.
This week, Bill Nye and I are attending the International Solar Sail Symposium at the New York College of Technology.
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.
LightSail 1, the Planetary Society's new ultra-light Cubesat-based solar sail spacecraft, has passed its Critical Design Review.
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.
JAXA finally issued the formal announcement: they successfully expanded IKAROS' square sail!
Several pictures from the sail deployment monitoring cameras showed up on the IKAROS blog overnight.
Planetary Society Executive Director Lou Friedman is now in Japan, joining the rest of the IKAROS team to watch the eagerly anticipated deployment of its solar sails.
The LightSail 1 spacecraft development is proceeding well. Our engineering team has completed crucial milestones to building the vehicle that will demonstrate the value and potential of using sunlight alone to propel exploratory craft through space.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced yesterday that the venerable 70-meter dish at the Goldstone Deep Space Network station is being taken offline so that major surgery can be performed.
I've written before about a serious problem looming for planetary exploration: the aging infrastructure of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN).
At the beginning of this decade, we designed a mission to accomplish this goal. We launched Cosmos 1 in June 2005, but the Volna rocket that was to place the spacecraft in orbit failed, and we were never able to test our solar sail in flight. These days, The Planetary Society is working with colleagues at NASA and at the Russian Space Research Institute to put together a new solar sail mission.