Proposed Solar Sail Pro-Am Collaborative Observing Campaign

From: Whorton, Mark (
Date: Tue Jun 21 2005 - 11:07:01 EDT

  • Next message: Alberto Rango: "4541 Satobs 19 - 20 Jun 2005"

    Hi folks,
    I'm new to this list, so thanks for the opportunity to interact with you.
    Many of you know that the Cosmos 1 launch is scheduled for today.  I work on
    the NASA solar sail propulsion projects and we are hoping to have a flight
    validation mission later this decade.  One of the primary objectives for our
    mission is to validate the thrust performance of a solar sail and the
    associated models that would enable us to design operational sailcraft in
    the 100+ meter (length of side for square sail design) as required for early
    science missions.  To validate the thrust performance will require measuring
    the sail's orbit and estimating the thrust forces on the sail to generate
    that trajectory.  I proposed a pro-am collaboration at the May 2005 meeting
    of the Society for Astronomical Sciences to use ground observations to help
    us with orbit determination for a proposed solar sail flight validation
    The Cosmos 1 mission provides us an excellent opportunity to "beta-test" our
    concept.  Cosmos 1 is scheduled to launch TODAY, June 21 and will deploy the
    solar sail panels on June 25 beginning at approximately 9:35 pm PDT.  The
    mission duration is estimated to be on the order of weeks.  I saw something
    earlier on the list with other estimates of magnitude, but I estimated that
    the visual magnitude will be around -1 to -2 and the sail angular rate will
    be approximately 3.5 arcmin per sec.  Information about Cosmos 1, mission
    progress, and information on the ground track after launch (from Heavens
    Above) may be found at the planetary society's Cosmos 1 web page
    I would very much appreciate your help participating in this "dry-run" for
    the pro-am observing campaign.  Your observations will help test and refine
    methods; give a good estimate of the accuracy we can expect; and add
    substantive credibility to our flight validation mission proposal.  
    I greatly appreciate your support and look forward to demonstrating a
    fruitful collaboration that will help us advance the technology of solar
    sail propulsion systems.  Hopefully we will be able to take what we learn
    from this beta test and put it to good use with a solar sail propulsion
    flight demonstration later this decade!  
    Thanks again for your support!  Questions, comments, and data can be sent to
    me at 
    Dr. Mark S. Whorton
    EV42 / Guidance, Navigation, and Mission Analysis
    NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
    p:  256-544-1435
    f:   256-544-5416
    Subscribe/Unsubscribe info, Frequently Asked Questions, SeeSat-L archive:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Jun 21 2005 - 11:12:44 EDT