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Photons, man, it's all about the photons. Japan's solar sail-equipped IKAROS probe has recorded its first propulsion derived from the force of sunlight rays hitting its tender surface. The force generated is a truly minuscule 1.12 millinewtons, but that can go a long way (literally) in a frictionle...

July 14th 2010 at 5:31am 0 Comments
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Though it may look like a collection of tinfoil and string, the photo above depicts what may be the first solar sail to actually propel a spacecraft. Japan's IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-Craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun) just unfurled the 7.5 micron (.0003-inch) thick polyimide membrane 7.4...

June 13th 2010 at 2:26pm 0 Comments
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Attempts to launch a solar sail into space haven't exactly been met with success in the past, but NASA now looks set to try to notch one up in the win column, with the agency reportedly on track for a launch of its own as soon as July 29th. As the name suggests, its new NanoSail-D is smaller than pr...

July 4th 2008 at 3:41pm 0 Comments