14 June 2010

Japanese Akatsuki-space probe

The Japanese spacecraft Icarus, who with her against Venus carrying a 200 m² sun, now has made its sail successfully.

Icarus' mission is to test the functionality of an awning. It was sent up as a "parasite" with the Japanese Akatsuki-space probe, which is also going to Venus.

Icarus' mission is to use the packed sun as a means of propulsion. This is still on a test basis, but the goal is to try to measure the acceleration caused by the large sail.

The sail is only 7.5 microns thin and works by photons are reflected against the highly reflective surface of the sail and thereby creates a small but big enough to push it over time create enough momentum to accelerate the craft up to speed.

The plan is not to use this instead of conventional rocket engines, but to provide longer range and life in space.

Additional information about Icarus can be read here.

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