NASA partners on nanoSail-D amateur astronomy image contest

Jan 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA has formed a partnership with Spaceweather.com to engage the amateur astronomy community to submit the best images of the orbiting NanoSail-D solar sail. NanoSail-D unfurled the first ever 100-square-foot solar sail in low-Earth orbit on Jan. 20.

To encourage observations of NanoSail-D, Spaceweather.com is offering prizes for the best images of this historic, pioneering spacecraft in the amounts of $500 (grand prize), $300 (first prize) and $100 (second prize).

The contest is open to all types of images, including, but not limited to, telescopic captures of the sail to simple wide-field camera shots of flares. If NanoSail-D is in the field of view, the image is eligible for judging.

The solar sail is about the size of a large tent. It will be observable for approximately 70 to 120 days before it enters the atmosphere and disintegrates. The contest continues until NanoSail-D re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

NanoSail-D will be a target of interest to both novice and veteran sky watchers. Experienced astrophotographers will want to take the first-ever telescopic pictures of a solar sail unfurled in space. Backyard stargazers, meanwhile, will marvel at the solar sail flares -- brief but intense flashes of light caused by sunlight glinting harmlessly from the surface of the sail.

NanoSail-D could be five to 10 times as bright as the planet Venus, especially later in the mission when the sail descends to lower orbits.

The NanoSail-D satellite was jointly designed and built by NASA engineers from the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

Key sail design support was provided by ManTech/NeXolve Corp. in Huntsville. The NanoSail-D experiment is managed by Marshall. It is jointly sponsored by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation and Dynetics Inc., all located in Huntsville.

To learn more about the NanoSail-D imaging challenge and contest rules, satellite tracking predictions and sighting times, visit: www.nanosail.org

For more information about NanoSail-D, visit: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sma… lsats/nanosaild.html

Explore further: US-India to collaborate on Mars exploration

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA ejects nanosatellite from microsatellite in space

Dec 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- On Dec. 6 at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA for the first time successfully ejected a nanosatellite from a free-flying microsatellite. NanoSail-D ejected from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology ...

Sailing Among the Stars

Aug 18, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA launch will evaluate how a nanosatellite spacecraft and its payload performs.

FASTSAT satellite readies for shipment to Alaska

Jun 08, 2010

NASA has successfully completed a comprehensive pre-shipment review of the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, a small, microsatellite class spacecraft bus that will carry six experiment ...

Setting sail in the sun

Sep 03, 2010

Propelled by sunlight pressure, large lightweight sails made of ultrathin aluminum-coated plastic could one day take probes to the edge of our solar system and other stars.

NASA, Industry Partner Test 20-Meter Solar Sail System

Aug 03, 2005

NASA has reached a milestone in the testing of solar sails -- a unique propulsion technology that will use sunlight to propel vehicles through space. Engineers have successfully deployed a 20-meter solar sail system that ...

Recommended for you

US-India to collaborate on Mars exploration

6 hours ago

The United States and India, fresh from sending their own respective spacecraft into Mars' orbit earlier this month, on Tuesday agreed to cooperate on future exploration of the Red Planet.

Swift mission observes mega flares from a mini star

7 hours ago

On April 23, NASA's Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series ...

Sandblasting winds shift Mars' landscape

11 hours ago

High winds are a near-daily force on the surface of Mars, carving out a landscape of shifting dunes and posing a challenge to exploration, scientists said Tuesday.

PanSTARRS K1, the comet that keeps going

14 hours ago

Thank you K1 PanSTARRS for hanging in there! Some comets crumble and fade away. Others linger a few months and move on. But after looping across the night sky for more than a year, this one is nowhere near ...

User comments : 0