Tilting at windmills


  • Anonymous


Last week, NASA's Magellan probe began a so-called “windmill” experiment to probe the upper atmosphere of Venus. In the experiment, the spacecraft's wing-line solar arrays are turned in opposite directions, like windmill sails, to encounter pressure from molecules in the upper atmosphere of Venus. The experiment, a “next to last act” of Magellan before it burns up in Venus' atmosphere October 14, is measuring how much torque will be needed to keep the spacecraft from spinning on its axis, according to Doug Griffith, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. After the windmill experiment, the craft will undergo additional orbit trim maneuvers to prepare for the termination experiment to enter Venus' lower atmospheres.