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Japan’s Ikaros Spacecraft Successfully Propelled by Solar Sail

Posted By Cameron Scott On July 16, 2010 @ 1:30 pm In Environment,Green Transportation,Innovation,Solar Power | 11 Comments

ikaros, japan, jaxa, solar sail, space travel, sustainable design, space exploration [1]

We’ve been following the progress [2] of the Japanese spaceship IKAROS — the first to unfurl a solar sail [3] in deep space. Today, the ship made the only first that really matters: it caught the sun’s rays with its 3,000 square-foot sail and successfully used the energy to speed its way through space.

ikaros, japan, jaxa, solar sail, space travel, sustainable design, space exploration [4]

Each photon of light exerts 0.0002 pounds of pressure on the 3,000-square-foot sail, and one after another they succeeded in propelling the nearly 700-pound drone. Japanese scientists expect to be able to control IKAROS’s velocity by adjusting the angle at which incoming radiation strikes the sails. For a full technical explanation of how the drone is moving, check out the Japanese space agency JAXA’s press release [5].

Solar sail technology is important because it allows spacecraft to travel without fuel, which could allow them to penetrate ever deeper into space [3].

+ JAXA [6]

Via LA Times [7]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/japans-ikaros-spacecraft-successfully-propelled-by-solar-sail/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://inhabitat.com/2010/07/16/japans-ikaros-spacecraft-successfully-propelled-by-solar-sail/ikaros-lead/

[2] progress: http://inhabitat.com/2010/05/20/japan-launching-worlds-first-solar-powered-spacecraft-today/

[3] unfurl a solar sail: http://inhabitat.com/2010/06/10/japanese-spacecraft-successfully-deploys-first-solar-sail-in-space/

[4] Image: http://inhabitat.com/2010/07/16/japans-ikaros-spacecraft-successfully-propelled-by-solar-sail/ikaros1/

[5] press release: http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2010/07/20100709_ikaros_e.html

[6] + JAXA: http://www.jaxa.jp/index_e.html

[7] LA Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2010/07/sunrider-japanese-solar-sail-propelled-by-suns-photons.html

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