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VLBI tracking of the solar sail mission IKAROS

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 12:03 authored by Takeuchi, H, Horiuchi, S, Phillips, C, Edwards, P, Jamie McCallumJamie McCallum, Simon EllingsenSimon Ellingsen, John DickeyJohn Dickey, Ichikawa, R, Takefuji, K, Yamaguchi, T, Kurihara, S, Ichikawa, B, Yoshikawa, M, Tomiki, A, Sawada, H, Jinsong, P
IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) is the world's first spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar-sail technology in interplanetary space. The spacecraft is made of square shape of very thin membrane, whose diagonal dimension is 20m. By changing its attitude toward Sun, radiation pressure of solar photons can be used as propulsive force of the spacecraft. To determine the orbit under the continuous big influence of the nongravitational perturbative force (i.e. solar radiation pressure), Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observation is effective because sky plane position of the spacecraft can be directly and instantaneously measured by VLBI observables without (or with less dependence on) a priori assumption for solar radiation pressure model. In order to effectively perform VLBI measurements, a signal generator of Differential One-way Range (DOR) tones, which consist of multiple tones whose spanning bandwidth is about 28MHz, was developed and installed to the spacecraft. A digital backend system for the ground stations which has maximum output performance of 4-Gbps had also developed to sample wideband DOR tones. A total number of 24 international VLBI experiments were carried out by using totally 15 antennas among 8 agencies during July and August in 2010. As a result of initial analysis, measurement accuracy of VLBI delay was confirmed to be 50 pico second level, which is 20 times improved precision compared to the JAXA's conventional deep space spacecraft such as Hayabusa and Akatsuki.


Publication title

General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, 2011 XXXth URSI




School of Natural Sciences


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Place of publication

United States

Event title

2011 30th URSI General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, URSIGASS 2011

Event Venue

Istanbul, Turkey

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright 2011 IEEE

Repository Status

  • Restricted

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