Solar Powered Sail Orbiting Earth
|Source: LightSail 2|
Promising New Solar Innovation for Space Travel
This green energy technology has the potential to be disruptive innovation. It's a solar powered sail invented through the non-profit Planetary Society in California, led by the Science Guy Bill Nye. The LightSail 2 CubeSat spacecraft successfully deployed its solar sail to get propulsion in space a few days ago. It's the first spacecraft to be propelled by sunlight alone. This is very important science because the use of solar sails to convert solar wind into thrust could save fuel for spacecrafts on long space missions.
The small spacecraft is the size of a toaster. It was hurled into space aboard a Space X Falcon Heavy rocket in late June. A few days ago, flight controllers on the ground in California fully deployed the solar sail from the CubeSat into space. The sail is the size of a boxing ring and the system is orbiting the Earth solely on the power of the sun. This system is designed to test solar sailing technology and so far it's working very well.
The LightSail 2 is a square, composed of four triangles and made of aluminized Mylar. When the sunlight's protons hit the Sail, the pressure creates solar wind and pushes the craft forward. It will be in orbit for the next year and is already sending pictures back to Earth. You can track LightSail 2's progress, location and conditions, on The Planetary Society's website at http://www.planetary.org/blogs/jason-davis/ls2-sail-deployment-live.html