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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 careysub ( 976506 ) on Sunday December 12, 2010 @07:07PM (#34531102)

    Given how small cameras are today, it seems like a no-brainer.

    Perhaps the name "NanoSail-D" will give a hint on how small this satellite is.

    However, the camera size itself is not all that matters. In order to send telemetry down there must exist a telemetry transmitter on board. It might surprise you to know that even large satellites often transmit telemetry at 1 kbps or so.

    Transmitting wide band, such as needed by a video signal, requires higher power. Sending high power down needs a bulkier and heavier transmitter. More power in the telemetry beacon requires more DC power, which means bigger batteries and bigger solar panels.


    The camera would not be on the "NanoSail-D", it would be on the mother satellite FASTSAT which weighs 148 kg. How much does a simple solid state camera weigh these days? It couldn't be more than several grams I would think. And what's this about a "video signal"? To confirm satellite deployment they would need only one single still frame which would only be transmitted if they needed it. And so what if it takes a dayor two to transmit the image along with its other data streams? They are going to be wondering about this for months or years.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly