SEE BELOW

                                              Whole Sky Chart

This chart shows the path of the satellite across the sky. Please note that East and West are NOT the "wrong way round" if you hold the chart over your head to correspond to the view of the sky.

                                    Pass Details

Date: Saturday, 2011 February 26
Satellite: NanoSail-D
Observer's Location: Long Beach ( 40.5880°N, 73.6580°W)
Local Time: Eastern Standard Time (GMT - 5:00)
Orbit: 618 x 648 km, 72.0° (Epoch 2011 Feb 18)
Sun altitude at time of
maximum pass altitude:

EventTime Altitude Azimuth Distance (km)
Rises above horizon 19:08:37 337° (NNW) 2,900
Reaches 10° altitude 19:10:52 10° 337° (NNW) 1,996
Maximum altitude 19:15:22 84° 245° (WSW) 631
Enters shadow 19:19:26 12° 162° (SSE) 1,836


                            Detailed Star Chart




SOLAR SAIL FLARES: NASA's new solar sail, NanoSail-D, is circling Earth and attracting the attention of sky watchers--especially when it flares. Sunlight glinting off the sail's reflective fabric can rival the brightest stars, making a sudden and luminous streak across the night sky. Here it is over Rautalampi, Finland, on 2011 Jan. 30th:

Photo details: Nikon D70s, 18 mm/f/3.5, ISO 1600, 30 sec exposures

"At its peak, the flare was magnitude +3.5, easily seen with the naked eye," says photographer Vesa Vauhkonen. "I was able to photograph the event using an ordinary digital camera (a Nikon D70s)."

On the same night, NanoSail-D flared even more brightly over Helsinki, Finland. A meteor camera operated by Esko Lyytinen caught the sail flashing almost three times brighter than a 1st magnitude star: image.

Future flares could dwarf these. NanoSail-D is skimming the top of Earth's atmosphere and slowly descending as it circles the planet. As the spacecraft gets closer to Earth and aerodynamic forces flatten the fabric into an ever-better reflector, flares are likely to intensify, theoretically exceeding the brightness of Venus as much as 100-fold (5 magnitudes). Photograph one of those and you just might win $500.

more images: from Enzo De Bernardini of Buenos Aires, Argentina; from Arto Oksanen of Jyväskylä, Finland; from Mika Järvinen of Finland


From Wikipedia

NanoSail-D2 is a small satellite which will be used by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Ames Research Center to study the deployment of a solar sail in space. It is a three-unit CubeSat measuring 30 by 10 by 10 centimetres (12 × 3.9 × 3.9 inches), with a mass of 4 kilograms (8.8 lb).[2] Its solar sail has an area of 10 square metres (110 sq ft),[2] and was deployed in around five seconds.

It was planned to be deployed from the FASTSAT satellite around 03 December 2010, two weeks after launch. The satellite did not eject at that time, but on January 17th 2011, it ejected on its own and deployed its sail three days later on the 20th. The beacon signal began transmitting after ejection and was first received on the afternoon of the 19th of January 2011.


NanoSail-D2 was originally built as a ground spare for the NanoSail-D satellite, which was launched aboard a Falcon 1 in 2008, and was subsequently lost when the rocket malfunctioned during stage separation. Over the next two years improvements were made to the spare,[3] and the satellite was incorporated into the FASTSAT mission.

NanoSail-D2 was launched aboard a Minotaur IV/HAPS rocket, inside the FASTSAT satellite. FASTSAT was a secondary payload on the launch, with the primary payload being STPSat-2. The launch also carried RAX, O/OREOS, FalconSat-5, and the two FASTRAC satellites; Sara-Lily and Emma. The Minotaur was launched from Launch Pad 1 of the Kodiak Launch Complex at 01:25 UTC on 20 November 2010.[4] Orbital Sciences Corporation conducted the launch under a contract with the United States Air Force.

FASTSAT was deployed into a low Earth orbit with a perigee of 650 kilometres (400 mi), an apogee of 650 kilometres (400 mi) and 72 degrees of inclination. NanoSail-D2 was expected to separate from FASTSAT on December 6, but although the bay door opened ejection did not occur.[5] Successful ejection was confirmed on 19 January 2011; it is unclear what caused the ejection mechanism to fail and then ultimately release at this later date. NASA requested amateur radio operators listen for the beacon signal from NanoSail-D.[6] They did and picked up the 1 second beacon transmissions which were transmitted every 10 seconds.[7] While battery power was soon exhausted, as predicted by the principal investigator, Dean Alhorn,[8] the spacecraft will sail on in low-Earth orbit for 70 to 120 days–depending on atmospheric conditions–before it burns up. It will be easiest to view after the atmosphere stabilizes its tumbling.[9][10] To generate publicity and to encourage observations while the sail is still in orbit, NASA and have announced a photography competition with a grand prize of $500 to capture images of the solar sail in orbit.


NanoSail-D in orbit (artist depiction).jpg
Operator NASA
Bus 3U CubeSat
Mission type Technology
Launch date 20 November 2010
01:25 UTC
Carrier rocket Minotaur IV/HAPS
Launch site Kodiak LP-1
Orbital decay ~110 days
Mass 4 kilograms (8.8 lb)
Orbital elements
Regime Low Earth[1]
Semimajor axis 7,014.59 kilometres (4,358.66 mi)
Eccentricity 0.0021431
Inclination 71.9761°
Altitude 638 kilometres (396 mi) average
Apoapsis 623 kilometres (387 mi)
Periapsis 654 kilometres (406 mi)
Orbital period 97.45 minutes
Orbits per day 14.77037263


  1. ^ "NanoSail-D - Orbit Data". Heavens Above. 
  2. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter. "NanoSail D". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  3. ^ "Sailing Among the Stars". NASA. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  4. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Issue 635". Jonathan's Space Report. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  5. ^ "NanoSail-D Dashboard". Santa Clara University. Retrieved 20 November 2010. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Stephen Clark (January 22, 2011). "NASA's first solar sail makes unlikely comeback in orbit". Spaceflight Now. 
  9. ^ "NASA's First Solar Sail NanoSail-D Deploys in Low-Earth Orbit". Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  10. ^ "NanoSail D". Retrieved 25 January 2011. 

  External links

  ]v · d · e2009  ·  Orbital launches in 2010  ·  2011


NaTTnoSail-D2 Mission Dashboard

Mission Time Since Ejection

16 Days 14 Hrs 11 Min 58 Sec  


Mission Phase

~ 5:25 pm PST 11/19/10 Launch

2215 PST 12/5/10 Ejection Window Open
1900 PST 1/17/11 NanoSail Ejected
1900 PST 1/20/11 Sail deployed - full comms
0554 PST 1/21/11 Sail deployed - no power
L + ~100 days De-orbit


Satellite Status

Sail Deployment

Panels Deployed

Sail Deployed
Bus Status

Beacon 437.270 MHz Last radio contact

  0554 PST 1/21/11

Battery Voltage PLOT


Ground Segment Status

S-Band Stations


SCU-B Operational
Amateur Radio Stations

SCU-OSCAR Operational
Auto Beacon Receive Network




STATUS: NanoSail-D ejected on 1/17/11 at approximately 1900 PST.  Beacon data was routinely received throughout the world from 1/19-21/11, and telemetry indicates that the sail deployed on schedule.  The satellite is now believed to be out of power (which is expected).

STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES - We will be monitoring the satellite's de-orbit over the next few months, and we will post any available visual photographs of the satellite, which are being collected by the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center mission team. And we're brewing up a de-orbit competition, so stay in touch!


Tracking NanoSail-D: 469 packets from 11 countries submitted to date

- Amateur radio operators can submit beacon packets here.

  1 90027U 0        11029.15737677 +.00020319 +00000-0 +28461-2 0 00140
  2 90027 071.9741 345.7226 0018614 180.5975 179.5130 14.77379680001451
  1 90023U 0        11019.40613897 -.00000065 +00000-0 -12174-5 0 00561
  2 90023 071.9738 007.2408 0019024 203.4674 156.5621 14.76492626008904


Mission Web Site
Mission Synopsis
NanoSail Images
NanoSail Twitter
YouTube Video
NASA Video

Video Feeds

Launch feed
Mission Control

Beacon Audio

 Audio by PA3GUO

Featured Photo
Courtesy NASA
Featured Graphic
Courtesy NASA

On-orbit mission control for the NanoSail-D2 mission is being provided by the students, staff and faculty of Santa Clara University's Robotics Systems Laboratory.

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