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So i was recently recently reading about this phenomenon called the Yarkovsky effect:

The Yarkovsky effect is a force acting on a rotating body in space caused by the anisotropic emission of thermal photons, which carry momentum. It is usually considered in relation to meteoroids or small asteroids (about 10 cm to 10 km in diameter), as its influence is most significant for these bodies.

Based on this effect my question is this: Suppose an artificial satellite absorbs heat. Now, if we put a radiator on the satellite would there be a force on the satellite using the above principle? if yes then can it be channelized for the satellites' orbital stationkeeping?

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  • $\begingroup$ If by "absorbs heat" you mean sunlight, then it is already getting pushed by the light. Since photons have no rest mass, the total momentum of a group of photons is equal to the total energy divided by the speed of light, and it's independent of wavelength. Absorbing 500 W of Sunlight gives 500W/c = 1.7 microNewtons of force, and radiating 500W gives 1.7 microNewtons of thrust in a new direction. A simple mirror could to the same. So while you need to worry about this as an effect, if a solar sail isn't strong enough for station keeping, then re-radiating warmth from the Sun won't be either. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 8 '18 at 12:15

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