Image of IKAROS. Credit: JAXA.
This probe is the first one to demonstrate both deployment and propulsion of a solar sail. I am not a great fan of solar sails but I must admit that this picture is indeed amazing, not only because it is like a sci-fi starship becoming reality, but also because it is an engineering tour-de-force.
Now two tasks remain for this mission: the measurement of acceleration and the validation of attitude control with variable reflectance panels . I hope the JAXA will release these very interesting data during the trip to Venus.