Interplanetary Solar Sail Concept Testing in Japan.

Everyone is familiar with the practical everyday use of renewable solar energy in a form of solar panels on roofs, solar garden lights and various solar gadgets.
Did you know that for many years now scientists around the globe have been working on a concept of implementation Solar Sail technology for space exploration?
The future is here!

solar sail
Image from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

If everything goes well, a new Japanese weather probe and its solar sail are scheduled to take off on May 21 2010 for a six-month journey to study Venus.
The launch requires a specific time window each day in order to accomplish a successful course toward Venus.
Watch this event broadcast live HERE.


World’s first interplanetary solar sail spacecraft IKAROS, sail spreading CG image.
Read more about Japanese solar sail concept testing here.

1,100-pound Akatsuki spacecraft, which means “Dawn” in Japanese, won’t take off unaccompanied. Along comes a solar sail named Ikaros (700-pound Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) as one of five smaller secondary payloads. The four remaining payloads represent small Earth satellites and experiments constructed by private universities and corporations.

Solar sails (also called light sails or photon sails) are a form of spacecraft driving force using the radiation pressure of light from a star or laser to push enormous ultra-thin mirrors to high speeds.
Theoretically solar sail crafts can reach speeds of 20% speed of light, if given enough size and area.
NASA has successfully tested deployment technologies on small scale sails in vacuum chambers.
No solar sails have been successfully used in space as primary propulsion systems before, research in the area is continuing. It is noteworthy that both the Mariner 10 mission, which flew by the planets Mercury and Venus, and the MESSENGER mission to Mercury demonstrated use of solar pressure as a method of attitude control, in order to conserve attitude-control propellant.


Solar Pressure-Powered Sails. NASA “Destination Tomorrow” Segment explaining how solar pressure-powered sails may be used to propel spacecraft deep into space.

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