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Questions tagged [light-sail]

questions about spacecraft propelled by the reflection of light, either from the Sun, or an artificial source.

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Interstellar travel by lightsail – what are the main factors of the trajectory uncertainties?

Lightsail (solar sail or sail accelerated by lasers) is a theorized as realistic way for interstellar travel. Breakthrough Starshot is the most prominent example. Let’s assume we have a thin enough ...
Heopps's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
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Were Mariner 3 and 4 the only spacecraft to use "solar paddles" to stabilize attitude?

This one sentence nearly link-only answer to What is the principle behind Mariner 4's “Solar Pressure Vanes”? In what case(s) would they be effective? and the discussion below explain that Mariner 4 (...
uhoh's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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How reflective can laser sail coatings be?

A recent post mentions that laser sails, in contrast to solar sails, can cherry-pick coatings that are near-perfect reflectors in narrow frequency ranges. But how good is "near-perfect"? ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
241 views

Small probes to Alpha Centauri powered by light sails with a journey time of 20 years

This news item states that scientists have potentially devised a way to send a number of small probes to Alpha Centauri at quarter the speed of light. The journey would take 20 years and each small ...
Fred's user avatar
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5 votes
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Attitude and orbit detection systems for solar sails

When a solar sailing craft is successfully getting force from solar photon pressure, that force applies a small torque to the craft because the center of pressure is never perfectly aligned with the ...
BobTheAverage's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
70 views

Specific reflected energy of current materials for light sail

Projects like Breakthrough Starshot or LightSail investigate a concept of probe gaining momentum by reflecting laser beam by a light sail. Material used for such a sail has to be very thin to minimize ...
Irigi's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
409 views

Lightsail-2: Increased Orbit from Sunlight or Lowering Periapsis?

Has Lightsail-2 really increased the total energy of its orbit by utilising energy from sunlight, or has it simply exchanged energy by lowering its periapsis in order to raise its apoapsis? And if so, ...
Andrew Hopkins's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
67 views

Where is this LightSail-2 trajectory data coming from? Is there more than TLEs available to the public?

This tweet shows high granularity data for LightSail-2's perigee and apogee, showing that while the apogee-raising strategy is working nicely, currently atmospheric drag is taking its toll and the ...
uhoh's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
589 views

Total delta-v expected from Lightsail-2's solar sail before end of mission, and why end it so soon?

While Bill Nye has recently gotten quite upset at us for some things (strong language for Bill Nye warning), in the video below he expresses heartfelt thanks to all members of the Planetary Society ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
115 views

What kind of transmitters and antennas do the Lightsail-2 ground stations use?

The cubesat Lightsail-2 has been deployed and has communicated with ground stations. See The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 Healthy as Mission Team Continues Spacecraft Checkouts, where it says: ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
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Maximum size for a Ion thruster solar array

In other questions I have asked about using a solar sail to double as a reflective mirror to provide light to an ion engine. What would be the maximum size or surface area of a parabolic sail where ...
Muze's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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How does lightsail 2 plan to raise its apogee

Lightsail 2 is supposed to be a demonstration flight for solar sail technology. They plan to demonstrate that they can raise the apogee of their satellite using only light pressure on their sail. But ...
David says Reinstate Monica's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
142 views

Could you track small particles in space and could you control their position with lasers or reflected light?

If you released a large amount of small but precise particles (the size of glitter or confetti) is space, between a group of cube sats. Could you track the particles with cameras and/or lasers? And ...
user802599's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
175 views

Can light sails be stopped (after 20 years)? What will happen after the 20 years (after their journey)?

At that time will they be destroyed? Or can they come back? Or will we simply cut the laser power? And if we can make the size of the craft big enough so that a person can be on-board (without ...
Harry's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
148 views

How will The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 Spacecraft's retroreflectors be used?

For more information and links on The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 and its corner cube retroreflectors, see the question Planetary Society's LightSail Spacecraft's corner cube reflectors; how large,...
uhoh's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
277 views

Planetary Society's LightSail Spacecraft's corner cube reflectors; how large, and corrected for aberration?

The Planetary Society's new 3U cubesat LightSail spacecraft (mentioned in this answer) has corner-cube retroreflectors on on the 10x10 cm +z end, facing directly away from the sail, which will be ...
uhoh's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
226 views

Why would "Breakthrough Starshot" need photon thrusters?

Found here (italics added, bold in source): Nanocrafts are gram-scale robotic spacecrafts comprising two main parts: StarChip: Moore’s law has allowed a dramatic decrease in the size of ...
user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
351 views

Solar sail and debris shielding

If a space craft is to travel at 0.6 c, how must one design a protection system such that any and all debris collisions with the sail do not render it damaged for further use? Is it possible to employ ...
Rushiil's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
5k views

How long would it take for a light sail to make it to Proxima Centauri and what speed would it get to?

The new discovery of a small planet keeping Proxima Centauri company prompted my imagination into overtime. There are four parts to this: If we were to deploy a small probe on a light sail how long ...
CodePoint's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
110 views

What are the benefits from using the Sun as a gravitational lens for beamed interstellar propulsion?

What would be gained from placing a powerplant with a photon beam canon and a light sail on opposite sides of the Sun, perfectly alligned, both at >550 AU from the Sun? That'swhere the lens starts, ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
494 views

How will Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking's nanobots decelerate and transmit data upon arrival at Alpha Centauri?

Does anyone know what exactly is their plan, once they get there? How is that nano-thing going to slow down / take images / send data back to us? I couldn't find any information on this.
Ash's user avatar
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