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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 @08:07PM (#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.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger