Solar Space Sailing


Well, many S words coming up.

First up, succesful solar sails 🙂

On 9 June 2010 “An innovative solar sail launched in May has been accelerated by sunlight, successfully demonstrating a new fuel-saving propulsion technique in interplanetary space, the Japanese space agency announced Friday.”

A small camera jettisoned from Ikaros last month captured this image of the solar sail. Credit: JAXA
“The small solar power sail demonstrator Ikaros, which successfully deployed its solar sail, was confirmed to accelerate by solar sail receiving solar pressure,” JAXA posted on its website. “This proved that the Ikaros has generated the biggest acceleration through photon during interplanetary flight in history.” 

You can almost feel the accelleration ….. vrooooom!

This chart shows the small acceleration of Ikaros on the line extending to the upper right. The data in the lower left of the chart shows measurements before the acceleration began. Credit: JAXA
Fantastic! This is the step eveybody has been waiting for. Solar Sailing here we come.  😀

What else has been happening up in interplanetary space recently?

Well how about this:

 A picture of the Rosetta spacecraft's October 2008 flyby of the Steins asteroid

“Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft flew less than 2,000 miles from asteroid Lutetia Saturday, snapping pictures of the new world and collecting bonus science on a primitive relic of the solar system.”

Here is the approach view, with Saturn in the background.

Just try to imagine flying by this big chunk of rock. Here is a close up.

Asteroid Lutetia

… or would you prefer to go even closer?

It is good to know that these things mostly stay up there 😉

Down here on Earth some astronomical events  of a Total Solar Eclipse have been amazing those in the South Pacific . Here is the path .

Here is the view from Easter Island to the … east 😉

Solar Eclipse 2010 Easter Island

And a view from the ship (click to see the full panorama): 

 [A panorama of the Total Solar Eclipse taken on board the ship Paul Gauguin, just to the south of Tahiti.]

Spaced out!


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