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NASA Solar Sail Lost In Space 111

An anonymous reader writes "According to Spaceflight Now: 'NASA has not heard from the experimental NanoSail-D miniature solar sail in nearly a week, prompting officials to wonder if the craft actually deployed from a larger mother satellite despite initial indications it ejected as designed.' NanoSail-D's spring-ejection was indicated at 1:31 a.m. EST Monday, leading to a predicted release of the spacecraft's sail membrane around 1:30 a.m. EST Thursday."
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NASA Solar Sail Lost In Space

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  • by Froggels ( 1724218 ) on Sunday December 12, 2010 @05:42PM (#34530550)
    While setbacks are inevitable it doesn't mean that scientists should not keep trying.
  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Sunday December 12, 2010 @06:15PM (#34530654)
    Sad when an internet meme is so appropriate... So they had a microswitch that says it deployed. Why not put a small camera on one or both to provide some visual feedback? It is an experimental deployment of (1) a cubesat from a microsat, and (2) an experimental sail membrane, yes? How would they know, for certain, that it deployed correctly if there are no pics? Given how small cameras are today, it seems like a no-brainer.
  • by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Sunday December 12, 2010 @10:11PM (#34531540)

    Well, sort of. But supplying a sufficient downlink and the associated extra weight and power just for a mechanism check that is generally trivial to verify with limit switches or break wires might have put the entire thing in jeopardy of never launching in the first place. Note that the deployment test proper was a full day after separation. Separating it wasn't part of the test.

            If the limit switch/breakwire showed it ejected, the overwhemling likelihood is that it did that - and then failed to come alive 24 hours later when it was supposed to. Could have deployed properly and just had a telemetry failure, that's at least as likely as anything else, and for a nano-sat on a very short mission it's pretty unlikely to have any more than a single-string system for anything, so no redundancy.


  • Re:Long gone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @05:17AM (#34532662)

    As long as you have a mod category like "funny", people will compete for it.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer