The Daedalus experiment is exploring the effect on satellites of Icarus ‘de-orbit sails’, made of 25 micrometre-thick aluminium-coated Kapton, a high heat-resistant polyimide film. When deployed, the sail increases drag, causing a controlled descent into Earth’s atmosphere where the satellite will burn up.
The first Daedalus trial has just started. A Canadian satellite, known as CanX-7, deployed its de-orbiting sail in early May 2017 and is expected to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere in around two years’ time. Two other satellites have been fitted with Icarus de-orbit sails created by Cranfield University and are expected to start their descents later this year.
The experiment results will help to characterise changes in the brightness of the satellite caused by the sail deployment, quantify the drag increase that is due to the de-orbit sail, and critically compare different orbital dynamics models.
For the full story, visit the Eureka magazine website HERE