Solar sail LightSail 2 successfully contacted the Ground. What’s next?

Any kind of fuel for satellites is costly and a heavy burden, so scientists are trying to bring them into the movement in alternative ways. The planetary society, which has been involved in space projects since 1980, proposes to use the so-called solar sails that can push the device due to radiated sun light particles. At the moment the technology is being tested on satellite, LightSail — second version was launched in the end of June 2019, with the help of the carrier rocket Falcon Heavy, and recently got in touch with the Earth.

Thanks received on 2 July the signal, the researchers became convinced of the health system. The message of Sputnik was a call sign in Morse code and was sent to Earth recently deployed radio antenna. Now, when employees of the Planetary society were convinced that the satellite is not broken and ready to go, they can give him the command for opening the main element of the solar sail.

Sputnik 2 LightSail is ready to reveal a solar sail

The unit itself has the dimensions of a loaf of bread, but the plot is ultra-thin sails with four panels is as much as 50 square meters. After the disclosure, the sail will begin to accept the elementary particles of light, photons emitted by the Sun. It is these tiny particles and will push the device in the desired direction. Researchers believe that the technology will be especially useful in cubesato — ultra-small satellites, where every extra gram of weight.

After this, the researchers for over 30 days will follow the movement of the apparatus in low earth orbit. If it will move without deviations, the efficiency of solar sails will be finally proved. Perhaps he will be an integral part of future satellites, which will cease to depend on fuel, and be able to work a record for a long time.

The first satellite with solar sail

It is noteworthy that LightSail 2 is not the first spacecraft moving with the help of solar sails. In 2010, in earth orbit was launched the IKAROS satellite, but two years later he fell into “hibernation”, because he could not capture the sunlight.

We also recommend you to read: How to work the satellites?

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