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Sailing through space with a solar wind? LightSail 2 will try



Sailing through the cosmos finally becomes reality.

For centuries, it has been a dream to travel through space powered only by the solar wind. It was first introduced in the 17th century by Johannes Kepler, the German astronomer. Centuries later, Arthur C. Clarke translated it into "science fiction" in Sunjammer, a 1964 short story. Carl Sagan, the cosmologist and co-founder of the Planetary Society, believed that this could be more than a speculative fantasy, and began in the 1970s to promote the construction of solar sails for space exploration An important step to a proven technique for navigation to become in the cavities between the worlds.

Last month, the Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft traveled into space with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. After 10 years of planning and more than 40,000 private donations worth $ 7 million, the Cubesat has reached a high enough orbit around the globe and some engineering issues have been worked out by engineers on Earth. At the press of a button on the ground in California on Tuesday morning, the air traffic controllers of the mission hope that the sails of the spaceship unfold and the curtain is opened for the next act of space travel.

A limitation of space means that the energy sources will eventually go out.

But the sun is a source of constant energy. It always releases photons into the room. Although these particles have no mass, but one pulse. Awning relies on so gently nudging photons to push a sail forward and move everything behind the sails in a different direction.

Sailing could be one of the most fuel-efficient options for space travel. While the force applied to an awning is similar to what you feel by the weight of a sheet of paper in your palm, the momentum can build up and the speed of the sail increases with time.

For example, the NASA twin spacecraft Voyager, which was just flying with fuel because it ran out of fuel, took more than 40 years to reach the edge of our solar system. However, if they had sunshades, the length of their journeys could have been almost halved.

LightSail 2 is said to be the first steerable solar sail ever to be orbited. It is a loaf-sized cube with a box-ring-sized awning. Made of thin Mylar material, these sails are designed to flower like a space lotus and collect solar energy.

The Cubesat has a flywheel that allows the Planetary Society engineering team to direct its Mylar sails on Earth. This keeps the spaceship at an angle of 90 degrees to the sun at all times, much like a sailboat needs to move in the wind.

While LightSail orbits the Earth, engineers on the ground will try to extend the Earth's farthest point in its orbit, called an apogee. For this, the sail must get enough thrust from the sun and can rely on it to steer from the ground.

"If all goes well, we should be able to raise the apogee by about 1,640 feet per day. Dave Spencer, Aviation Professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and LightSails Mission Manager

The mission engineers in California completed a series of tasks before the ship sets sail on Tuesday morning. At 11:40 pm in California, 2:40 pm In Eastern Time, they send a command into orbit and within two minutes LightSail 2 unfurls its sails.

Two wide-angle cameras capture images on the Cubesat 32 during use. "It will effectively provide us with a kind of film about sailing," Dr. Spencer.

The main task is to last about a month and then LightSail could orbit the earth for up to a year. Sometimes it is visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the Planetary Society provides up-to-date visibility.

Eventually the cube is dragged back into the atmosphere by gravity, where it burns. [19659020] Was this already tried?

LightSail 2 follows LightSail 1, which was launched in 2015 as a test. While the test reached some of its goals, it was hampered by a number of technical shortcomings.

The very first aero-space spaceship, Ikaros, was launched in 2010 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Although it was not controllable, it passed by Venus. It entered orbit around the sun and was last heard in 2015.

At the beginning of the next decade, NASA plans to launch NEA Scout or Near Earth Asteroid Scout. This small cube will use an awning to visit a near-Earth asteroid to collect data and send it back to Earth.


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