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 solar sail 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
, and NASA's Huntsville, Ala. in Ames Research Center Moffett Field, Calif.
Key sail design support was provided by ManTech/NeXolve Corp. in
. The NanoSail-D experiment is managed by Huntsville . 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 Marshall . Huntsville
To learn more about the NanoSail-D imaging challenge and contest rules, satellite tracking predictions and sighting times, visit http://www.nanosail.org.
For more information about NanoSail-D, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/smallsats/nanosaild.html.
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