Space News

The sunshine sail works … it really works!

Excellent news from The Planetary Society: The Photo voltaic Sail LightSail 2 works as anticipated. After launching on June 25 and deploying its photo voltaic navigation system on July 23, the mission managers labored with photo voltaic navigation to optimize their LightSail 2 orientation in the direction of the Solar. Now, the Planetary Society stories that the probe has used its photo voltaic sail to climb into orbit.

"We’re delighted to announce the success of the mission for LightSail 2."

Bruce Betts, Head of LightSail Program, Chief Scientist, Planetary Society.

The Planetary Society, the most important non-governmental house group on the earth, has traveled a great distance. Their work on photo voltaic sails started in 2005 with the satellite tv for pc Cosmos 1. Sadly, this mission failed when its Russian launcher by no means went into orbit. LightSail 1 was launched as an engineering mission to check the deployment of a photo voltaic sail. It was a profitable demonstration mission, nevertheless it by no means actually sailed.

This sequence of vignettes comes from digital camera 1 on the LightSail 2 spacecraft. The primary 13 photos have been taken at 10 second intervals, the final at 30 seconds aside. Picture credit score: The Planetary Society.

Now all of the work has paid off with the success of LightSail 2.

LightSail 2 deployed its photo voltaic navigation system final week and so far, the spacecraft has climbed its orbit about 2 kilometers. The LightSail workforce has confirmed that this enhance in altitude is because of the tiny photo voltaic spacecraft navigation.

"For the Planetary Society, this second has taken a long time."

Invoice Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society.

"We’re excited to announce the success of the LightSail 2 mission," stated Bruce Betts, LightSail Program Lead and Senior Scientist for the Planetary Society, in a report posted on the Planetary Society's web site. "Our criterion was to exhibit managed photo voltaic navigation in a CubeSat by altering the spacecraft's orbit utilizing solely the slight stress of the Solar, which had by no means been achieved earlier than. I’m extraordinarily happy with this workforce. The street was lengthy and we did it. "

Apogee and perigee of LightSail 2 since its launch. From July 26 to 30, LightSail 2 raised its orbital climax, or climax, of about 2 km. Picture Credit score: The Planetary Society / Knowledge supplied by NXTRAC.

LightSail 2 is the primary spacecraft to efficiently use photo voltaic navigation to propel itself into Earth orbit. Nevertheless, it isn’t the primary solar-powered spacecraft to fly. This honor belongs to the Japanese IKAROS, the primary spacecraft to make use of photo voltaic sails as the primary propulsion system. IKAROS was launched in 2010 and in 2013, it had gained about 400 m / s of velocity.

However IKAROS was a government-funded mission launched by Japan Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA).

The Planetary Society is a non-governmental group and a registered charity, and crowdfunding has been instrumental of their LightSail program. This system has price about US $ 7 million in ten years and, remarkably sufficient, about 40,000 particular person donors have supported the venture. There was additionally a Kickstarter marketing campaign in 2015 that generated $ 1.24 million.

"This second may mark a paradigm shift that opens the house exploration to extra gamers."

Jennifer Vaughn, COO of the Planetary Society.

"LightSail 2 proves the energy of public help," stated Jennifer Vaughn, director of operations for the Planetary Society. "This second may mark a paradigm shift that opens the exploration of house to extra gamers. I'm shocked that 50,000 individuals have come collectively to make photo voltaic crusing. Think about if that quantity has grow to be 500,000 or 5 million. It's an thrilling idea. "

This sequence of vignettes comes from digital camera 2 on LightSail 2. The primary 13 frames have 10-second intervals, the final two have 30-second intervals. Picture credit score: The Planetary Society.

"For the Planetary Society, this second has taken a long time," stated Planetary Society CEO Invoice Nye. "Carl Sagan talked about photo voltaic navigation after I was a part of his class in 1977. However the concept goes again to at the least 1607, when Johannes Kepler observed that comet tails needed to be created by the power of the Solar. The LightSail 2 mission is a sport changer for spaceflight and house exploration. "

This success, nevertheless, doesn’t concern solely the worldwide society. They share all their knowledge with different companies and organizations. They current the outcomes of LightSail 2 on the fifth Worldwide Photo voltaic Crusing Symposium in Germany this week. And NASA is utilizing the outcomes of LightSail 2 as a part of its NEA Scout mission, which is to ship a Photo voltaic CubeSat to an asteroid near Earth, in all probability as early as subsequent 12 months.

Illustration by an artist of the NEA Scout CubeSat with its photo voltaic sail deployed on the strategy of an asteroid. Picture credit score: NASA

The orbit rise section of LightSail 2 will take a few month. After that, the spaceship will start to desorb. In a few 12 months, he’ll enter the environment and burn. And that shall be all for this revolutionary mission.

The mylar reflective photo voltaic sail, which is in regards to the dimension of a boxing ring, is seen to some earthlings at daybreak and nightfall. You possibly can verify whether it is seen out of your location on the Planetary Society's Mission Management Dashboard. It’s a good useful resource to trace the spacecraft's trajectory over the Earth.

Screenshot of the LightSail 2 Mission Management Dashboard. Picture Credit score: The Planetary Society.


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