Yet, for some reason that I don't quite understand, I'm fascinated by the whole concept. And I'm almost giddy to read news like this:
The NanoSail-D satellite — which ejected from its mothership just this week, more than a month late — deployed its sail at about 10 p.m. EST yesterday (Jan. 20; 0300 GMT on Jan. 21) and is operating as planned. The unfurling marks the first time a NASA craft has ever opened a solar sail in low-Earth orbit, according to agency officials.(from Space.com)
NanoSail-D, whose core is only the size of a loaf of bread, sent data home indicating that deployment of its 100-square-foot polymer sail had occurred. Ground-based satellite tracking efforts further confirmed the success, officials said.
"This is tremendous news and the first time NASA has deployed a solar sail in low-Earth orbit," said Dean Alhorn, NanoSail-D principal investigator and an aerospace engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in a statement.
NASA has asked for help in tracking NanoSail-D from the amateur ham-radio community, and the so-called "hams" delivered.
"To get to this point is an incredible accomplishment for our small team and I can't thank the amateur ham operator community enough for their help in tracking NanoSail-D," Alhorn said. "Their assistance was invaluable. In particular, the Marshall Amateur Radio Club was the very first to hear the radio beacon. It was exciting!"
Tremendous news, indeed.