The IKAROS solar-powered spacecraft launched by the Japanese space agency JAXA is officially propelling through space using only solar energy.
After a successful launch on May 21, the craft's 3,000-square-foot sail unfurled without incident and today it was confirmed that IKAROS was harnessing the sun's rays and speeding through space. The team of scientists back on the ground will control the craft's velocity by changing the angle of the sail, which will maximize or minimize the amount of radiation hitting the solar cells.
The team measured the thrust from the solar light pressure at 1.12 mili-Newton, which is what they expected. You can check out JAXA's press release here for charts of the craft's acceleration and more details.
The IKAROS is the first fully solar-powered space craft to attempt to reach deep space.
written by tee are, July 19, 2010
written by infrared camera, July 27, 2010
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