November 30, 2012 Updated
IKAROS world record certified!
The Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator “IKAROS” and its two separated cameras “DCAM1”and “DCAM2” have been recognized by GUINNESS World Record (TM). The IKAROS was awarded as the world's first solar sail spacecraft between planets, and the two separated cameras were recognized for the smallest size of a spacecraft flying between planets.
Left: Osamu Mori, IKAROS Demonstration Team chief
Right: Hirotaka Sawada, engineer (in charge of developing the DCAM)
September 11, 2012 Updated
IKAROS to wake up from hibernation
The IKAROS was confirmed to have shifted itself into hibernation mode (or shutting down its onboard equipment due to low power generation) sometime before Jan. 6, 2012.
After moving into hibernation mode, the IKAROS team has been searching for the IKAROS twice a month. On Sept. 6 (Thu.), 2012, a radio wave that appeared to be emitted from the IKAROS was detected.
On the 8th (Sat.) it was confirmed to be from the IKAROS, and we made sure that the IKAROS came out from hibernation mode (or recovered.) We are now checking the satellite's status.
January 6, 2012 Updated
IKAROS: Details of reverse spin operation result and hibernation mode
The IKAROS project team carried out the reverse spin operation of the IKAROS on Oct. 18, 2011, and acquired detailed achievements about the operation.
We also observed that the IKAROS went into hibernation mode (meaning that onboard devices are currently shut down due to low power generation) sometime before Jan. 6, 2012, as its operational conditions brought the IKAROS away from the sun and also the angle with the sun has been unfavorable so that it cannot generate enough electricity.
The distance and angle against the sun are expected to be improved from spring 2012, thus power will be restored (from the mode coming out of hibernation.) We are preparing for trial signal receiving from the IKAROS by waiting and looking for appropriate timing around that time frame.
October 18, 2011 Updated
Result of IKAROS 'reverse spin operation'
On Oct. 18, 2011 (Japan Standard Time), JAXA performed a "reverse spin operation" of the IKAROS. As a result of the jet thrust to shift IKAROS's spin direction to the reverse way for about 20 minutes from 7:20 a.m. on the 18th, the membrane successfully spun in the reverse course without being entangled. The IKAROS is in good shape after reversing its spin, and its spin rate at the time of completing this operation was -0.24rpm.
We are currently evaluating if we will continue the mission. For assessing it more in detail, the following information must be acquired.
1) Attitude related date from the data recorder that accumulated information during the reverse spin.
2) Data necessary for predicting future attitude change.
We will announce the detailed evaluation results as soon as we complete data acquisition and analysis.
January 26, 2011 Updated
IKAROS regular operations completed
The Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator “IKAROS” has been in its regular operation phase for about six months to verify navigation by the world’s first solar sail device and power generation by the thin-film solar battery. As its missions have been achieved, the IKAROS has completed its regular operations. The demonstrator will be in the post operational phase, which leads to the development of a successor while acquiring basic knowledge of solar power sail technology including a navigation guidance technique.
Above photo: IKAROS Project Manager Osamu Mori explaining the regular phase completion. Photo below: Venus taken by the IKAROS's monitor camera.
July 23, 2010 Updated
IKAROS successfully controlled its attitude using liquid crystal device
The Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS" performed an attitude control experiment of the solar sail using an attitude control device, or the liquid crystal device, on July 13, and JAXA confirmed that the attitude control performance was successfully accomplished as planned.
The liquid crystal device is attached to the solar sail for attitude control to change the reflection characteristics of sunlight by turning on and off the power of the device. With this function, the sail can control its attitude using only sunlight pressure without any additional propellant.
July 14, 2010 Updated
IKAROS observes gamma-ray burst
The GPA, or the gamma-ray polarized light detector, which is aboard the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS," successfully observed a gamma-ray burst. JAXA will further aim at observing gamma-rays through polarized light observations, which will be a global first if successful. Polarized light observations of gamma-rays will contribute to elucidate the magnetic structure and the radiation system of a gamma-ray burst, thus it is expected to be greatly helpful to solve the mystery of the death of planets and the birth of black holes.
July 9, 2010 Updated
IKAROS: Acceleration by solar sail confirmed
The small solar power sail demonstrator "IKAROS," which successfully deployed its solar sail, was confirmed to accelerate by solar sail receiving solar pressure.
This proved that the IKAROS has generated the biggest acceleration through photon during interplanetary flight in history.
June 30, 2010 Updated
IKAROS moving to regular operations
The Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS," which successfully deployed the solar power sail, completed its initial operation verification of the necessary mission equipment including power generation of the thin film solar cells.
The IKAROS will move to the regular operation phase to carry out measurements of power generation characteristics of the cells, an acceleration experiment by photon pressure, and orbit control verification.
June 28, 2010 Updated
IKAROS successfully shot images also by DCAM1
The IKAROS, which deployed the solar sail, took its image by the second separation camera (DCAM1) on June 19 after its successful photo shooting by DCAM2 (the first separation camera.)
Through the images taken by the DCAM1, we have also confirmed that the liquid crystal device is working properly. The liquid crystal device is equipment whose sunlight reflection characteristics change by turning the power on and off, and it is expected to enable attitude control without using fuel.
We will continue to measure the power generation status of the thin film solar cells attached to the sail, and will verify acceleration by solar sail and orbit control by their acceleration.
June 21, 2010 Updated
Photo shooting by IKAROS separation camera 1 going smoothly
To improve its steering performance, the IKAROS has gradually reduced its rotation speed since June 16, and on the 19th, it released the separation camera 1 (DCAM1) to carry out a photo shooting experiment. The images taken by the DCAM1 are currently being transmitted through downlink, and we were able to confirm a shadow of the camera in the very first image shot by the DCAM1.
June 16, 2010 Updated
Successful image shooting of solar sail by IKAROS separation camera
The small solar power sail demonstrator "IKAROS," which expanded its solar sail on June 10, released its separation camera and took images of the deployed solar sail successfully.
We will continue to measure the power generation status of the thin film solar cells attached to the sail, and will verify acceleration by the cells and orbit control by their acceleration.
June 11, 2010 Updated
IKAROS successfully deploys sail!
The Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator “IKAROS” launched by the H-IIA F17 began to deploy its sail on June 3 (Japan Standard Time, JST,) and on June 10 (JST,) JAXA confirmed the proper extension of the sail and power generation by the thin film solar cells at about 7.7 million km from the Earth.
We will continue to measure the power generation status of the cells attached to the sail, and will verify acceleration by the cells and orbit control by their acceleration.
May 22, 2010 Updated
IKAROS checking its conditions
The signal from the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator “IKAROS,” which was launched by H-IIA F17 on May 21 (Japan Standard Time, JST), was acquired at the Usuda Deep Space Station and confirmed its solar power generation and stable posture, and established communications.
May 21, 2010 Updated
AKATSUKI, IKAROS successfully launched!!
The H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 17 (H-IIA F17) with the Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" onboard was launched at 6:58:22 a.m. on May 21 (Japan Standard Time) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The H-IIA F17 flew smoothly, and, at 27 minutes and 29 seconds after liftoff, the AKATSUKI was separated from the H-IIA.
(Photo: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries)
May 18, 2010 Updated
AKATSUKI/IKAROS Launch rescheduled to 6:58 a.m. on the 21st (Fri)
The launch of the Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" and the Small Solar Power Demonstrator "IKAROS" by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 17 was rescheduled at 6:58:22 a.m. on May 21 (Fri. Japan Standard Time, JST) after carefully studying the weather conditions.
Accordingly, the live launch report will begin at 6:30 a.m. on May 21(Fri., JST.) The report will be broadcast not only through the Internet, but also at JAXA i, Sagamihara Campus and other public viewing locations including some universities. You can also watch it through some CATV and cell phone providers.
May 10, 2010 Updated
AKATSUKI and IKAROS moved to VAB
On May 9, the encapsulated Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" and the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS" were transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 17 was waiting for their payloads. They will be loaded onto the launch vehicle, and the final inspection will be carried out to be ready for the launch on the 18th.
May 6, 2010 Updated
AKATSUKI and IKAROS encapsulated in the fairing
On May 4, the Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" and the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS" were encapsulated in the fairing at the Spacecraft and Fairing Assembly Building (SFA) at the Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC.) The fairing covers the payloads to protect them from air resistance, friction heat, and acoustic vibrations during launch.
The encapsulated payloads will be transported to the Vehicle Assembly Building and loaded on to the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 17.
March 12, 2010 Updated
AKATSUKI and IKAROS open to the media at Sagamihara Campus
On March 12, the Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI" and the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS" were displayed to the media at the Sagamihara Campus.
The two payloads will be transported to the Tanegashima Space Center to be ready for launch.
The IKAROS message campaign, Solar Sail Mission Support Campaign "Let's set sail for the solar system on a solar yatch!," has been extended until March 22, (Monday and a holiday in Japan for Vernal Equinox Day.) Those who have not registered, don't miss this opportunity!
March 11, 2010 Updated
Solar Sail IKAROS x LightSail Message Campaign Extended until March 22 (Vernal Equinox Day)
The collaborative message campaign held for JAXA's "IKAROS" satellites and The Planetary Society's "LightSail-1" mission has been extended until March 22, (Monday and a holiday in Japan for Vernal Equinox Day.)
The registered names and messages will be recorded either on an aluminum plate or DVD to be loaded onto the IKAROS, and travel through space toward the Venus orbit. Those who have not registered, don't miss this opportunity!
March 3, 2010 Updated
"IKAROS" launch date set! "AKATSUKI" Special site open
The launch time and day of the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 17 (H-IIA F17) has been set for 6:44:14 a.m. on May 18. The H-IIA will carry the Venus Climate Orbiter "AKATSUKI," the Small Solar Power Sail Demonstrator "IKAROS," and four other small satellites to space.
The AKATSUKI special website opens today to keep you updated about its preparation status before its arrival to the Venus orbit. Please enjoy the site.
JAXA is currently holding a message campaign to ask your support for the mission.Your messages will be attached to the IKAROS and LightSail-1 to travel in space. We can accept your message till March 14, 2010 (Japan Standard Time.)
December 4, 2009 Updated
Solar sail "IKAROS x LightSail" Support Campaign
Let's set sail for the solar system by a solar yacht!
A yacht travels through the ocean using wind pressure. Thus, theoretically, solar sails should move their way through space by receiving pressure from solar lights. JAXA and the Planetary Society of the U.S. will launch "IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun)" and "LightSail-1" respectively in Japan Fiscal Year 2010 to carry out verification tests on this technology. Taking this opportunity, the two organizations would like to hold a message campaign together to ask your support for the two missions.
If we can verify that solar sails move forward by solar lights, it will be a new propulsion technology that can save engine power and fuel consumption. For a successful verification, we would like to ask your support. Your messages will be attached to the IKAROS and LightSail-1 to travel in space. We can accept your message till March 14, 2010 (Japan Standard Time.)