NASA’s solar sail makes first contact with space before stretching its huge wings

NASA’s solar sail makes first contact with space before stretching its huge wings
NASA’s solar sail makes first contact with space before stretching its huge wings
Artist’s concept of the Solar Sail mission in orbit.
Illustration: POT

Nearly a week after launching into space, a microwave-sized cube called home for the first time as it prepares to embark on its mission. to navigate through low Earth orbit.

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NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System (ACS3) contacted ground operators Tuesday at 2:30 a.m. ET as it passed over Earth’s center. Located at Santa Clara University’s Robotics Systems Laboratory in Santa Clara, California, the space agency Announced in a blog post.

he Solar Sail Mission Launch on April 23 aboard Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from New Zealand. It was delivered into a sun-synchronous orbit about 600 miles (966 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface (more than twice the altitude of the International Space Station). The mission team confirmed successful two-way communications and will set a date to deploy the sail after all commissioning tasks have been completed, according to NASA.

The deployment process will take about 25 minutes and NASA has equipped the mission with a set of onboard digital cameras to capture images. of the sail during and after deployment to evaluate its shape and alignment.

NASA’s ACS3 is designed to test new deployable materials and structures for solar sail propulsion systems, including new composite plumes that will be used to deploy the solar sail once it reaches orbit. Once deployed, the solar sail will extend 30 feet (9 meters) per side.

Solar sails are powered by photons from the Sun, causing small bursts of momentum that propel the spacecraft further from the star. The initial flight phase will last around two months and will include a series of orientation maneuvers to demonstrate the raising and lowering of the orbit using only the pressure of sunlight acting on the sail.

“The results of this mission will advance future space travel to expand our understanding of our Sun and our solar system,” NASA wrote in its blog update.

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This content has been automatically translated from the original material. Due to the nuances of machine translation, there may be slight differences. For the original version, click here.

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