LightSail 2 has successfully deployed its solar panels. Shortly after 12:00 PM PST (19:00 UTC) The Planetary Society writes that the sails are deployed and that the spacecraft sails with sunlight.
We can all enjoy their success and start wondering how the solar lanes will fit into human space exploration plans. We Swim the Sun !!!!! This is a dramatic moment for LightSail 2 and the Planetary Society, the world's largest nonprofit organization pic.twitter.com/PA74NMa7Ry
– Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) 19659005] LightSail 2 is the third spacecraft in their LightSail program. It was launched on June 25 and has been in orbit since then, preparing to unleash sails and send us sweet pictures of the Earth.
A series of tweets from the Planetary Society tell of this morning.
Sail Deployment is a manual, two-step procedure initiated by the ground-based team. First, the team must "lift" the rollout, then send the command to unfold the canvas. If everything goes well, telemetry should show an increase in the number of engines.
– Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) July 23, 2019
The LightSail 2 platform is actually a system of four smaller triangular canvases that make one large square in deployment. Once deployed, the fan is 32 square meters or 340 square feet. Once deployed, it can be used to increase the spacecraft's orbit, demonstrating the power and usefulness of the solar lanes.
MOTOR ON. Telemetry shows The fan # # LightSail2 is active.
– Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) 23 July 2019
Then came some telemetry from the small satellite, which shows that the number of engines is growing. Telemetry also showed that the cameras are active. Telemetry shows that the engine has reached the target! We are still waiting for some new images from LightSail 2, but we have this nice picture
– Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) July 23,
Technology of Sunbathing
If you are not familiar with solar technology for sailing, the idea is relatively simple, at least in theory.
The solar canvas uses the inertia of the photons coming from the sun in the same way the yacht captures the wind energy. The light canvas does not capture the photons. The photons bounce off the reflective surface and propel the canvas. This is a light, simple technology that has great potential.
In the vacuum of the cosmos it works. There is no resistance to the inertia of the spacecraft, so over time, as more and more photons bounce off it, its speed is increasing. All this without any fuel or other propulsion system.
In some way, the sun canvas is just like a canvas on a boat. The canvas can be angled to guide the voyage of the spacecraft. If the sails are directed directly to the Sun, the spacecraft will travel directly from the Sun.
But by targeting or changing the sail's angle, a spacecraft using solar lanes can drive and move through the solar system, and they also gain momentum while traveling. They can continue to accelerate until the photons hit them. The solar-powered spacecraft can reach speeds that a chemical missile can never reach, although obviously they can not escape the gravitational attraction of the Earth by themselves.
Of course, inertia can not increase at the same rate forever. The farther from the Sun receives the solar canvas, the less photons hit it. And although it will not slow down in the void of space, its acceleration speed will decrease.
For all these reasons, solar lanes are aimed at long journeys where a simple but efficient propulsion system can illuminate. There is even the idea that lasers can be directed to the sunbeds to help them accelerate even more.
to be driven by a number of lasers whose photons would hit the sails in the same way the Sun would like. The laser matrix would accelerate the spacecraft to a speed of approximately 60,000 km / s (37,282 mps) – or 20 percent of the speed of light.
Alpha Centrave is at 4.37 light-years, so even with lasers, the drilling stars, the project will still take 20 years to get there.
But this is a totally different and more ambitious project than LightSail 2. Also, the breakthrough of stars is a Russian billionaire project, while LightSail is a public non-profit spacecraft. built with money gathered by enthusiastic supporters.
And his success today is a wonderful achievement.
LightSail 2 is a demonstration mission designed to show how even a little sun canvas can pick up the orbiting spacecraft. There are still many obstacles that need to be overcome to increase their scale. It may have commercial applications for small satellites and eventually its technology can play a role in exploring our solar system.
But for today, enjoy the success of the planetary society!
This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.