NanoSail-D2’s Mission


Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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As I’ve promised in the previous post, today’s post is about the successful completion of a mission by Nanosail-D2, a mini-satellite with a solar sail that orbited the Earth for 240 days before performing a controlled reentry and burnout.  NanoSail-D2


NanoSail-D2 in orbit (artist depiction), creative commons


is a small satellite built by NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center and Ames Research Center to study the deployment of a solar sail in space. It is a three-unit CubeSat measuring 30 by 10 by 10 centimeters (12 × 3.9 × 3.9 inches), with a mass of 4 kilograms (8.8 lb). Its solar sail has an area of 10 square meters (110 sq ft), and was deployed in around five seconds.  It was planned to be deployed from the FASTSAT satellite around  December 3, 2010, two weeks after launch. The satellite did not eject at that time, but on January 17, 2011, it ejected on its own and deployed its sail three days later on the 20th. The beacon signal began transmitting after ejection and was first received on the afternoon of January 19, 2011.

To generate publicity and to encourage observations while the sail is still in orbit, NASA and have announced a photography competition with a grand prize of $500 to capture images of the solar sail in orbit.  On September 17, 2011, the solar sail re-entered the atmosphere, though this was only announced on November 29, 2011

For more on what lessons were learned from NanoSail-D2, please refer to Chelsea Katan (of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University)’s NASA’s Next Solar Sail: Lessons from NanoSail-D2.  Below, is a video clip of NASA: NanoSail-D2’s mission a success:


We look forward to more future solar sailings in interstellar flights, privately or publicly funded.
~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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