Japan’s ‘Ikaros’ solar sail gets Guinness World Records entry


Ikaros, a Japanese probe launched in 2010, has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the first interplanetary solar sail spacecraft.

It was developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Two separate cameras that were released from Ikaros to record the success of the unfurling of its solar sail were also recognized as the world’s smallest satellites.

Guinness announced it would make the listing on Nov. 26.

Ikaros was launched aboard an H-2A rocket in May 2010, together with Venus climate orbiter Akatsuki.

Ikaros is fitted with a 14-meter by 14-meter “solar sail,” the thickness of which is a tenth of the diameter of a human hair. The sail converts sunlight into propulsion. It is also equipped with ion-propulsion engines.

The cylindrically shaped satellites are just 6 centimeters in diameter and 6.7 centimeters tall.

“The idea of the solar sail emerged a century ago, but no one had figured out a way to do it,” said Osamu Mori, chief of the Ikaros demonstration team in JAXA. “(With our technology,) we have shown the rest of the world that it will not be able to catch up with Japan in this field for at least 10 years.”