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Astronomy Photo of the Day

Posted By Editor On January 28, 2011 @ 10:34 pm In Photo Essays | Comments Disabled

Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day [1]


Illustration Credit: courtesy NASA [3]

Explanation: Featured in this artist’s illustration, NASA’s NanoSail-D [4] finally unfurled [5] a very thin, 10 square meter reflective sail on January 20th, becoming the first solar sail spacecraft in low Earth orbit. Often considered the stuff of science fiction [6], sailing through space was suggested [7] 400 years ago by astronomer Johannes Kepler who observed comet tails blown by the solar wind. Modern solar sail [8] spacecraft designs, like NanoSail-D or the Japanese interplanetary spacecraft IKAROS [9], rely on the small but continuous pressure from sunlight [10] itself for thrust. Glinting in the sunlight as it circles planet Earth, the NanoSail-D solar sail will periodically be bright and easily visible to the eye. In fact, skygazers are urged to participate in an ongoing contest to capture images of NanoSail-D [11]. The images will help NASA monitor the satellite before it reenters the atmosphere in April or May.

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URL to article: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/astronomy-photo-of-the-day-6/

URLs in this post:

[1] Astronomy Pictures of the Day: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/

[2] Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/NanoSailD900.jpg

[3] NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/

[4] NASA’s NanoSail-D: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats/nanosaild.html

[5] finally unfurled: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/24jan_solarsail/

[6] stuff of science fiction: http://240plan.ovh.net/%7Eupngmmxw/imag/bd/bd_a.htm

[7] was suggested: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap040821.html

[8] Modern solar sail: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_sail

[9] spacecraft IKAROS: http://www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/ikaros/index_e.html

[10] continuous pressure from sunlight: http://www.phy6.org/stargaze/Solsail.htm

[11] contest to capture images of NanoSail-D: http://www.nanosail.org/

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