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Questions tagged [solar-sail]

Questions regarding a 'sail' that can be attached to spacecraft to harness the sun's radiation to propel a ship in one direction or another.

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Solar Reflective Plasma Drive

I understand that solar sails have just recently been progressing to be of use. Could the solar sails be positioned to create a hyperbolic mirror to super heat a substance to produce propulsion along ...
Justintimeforfun's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
67 views

Has propulsion utilizing solar sail / drag effects of solar panels achieved orbital rendezvous? If yes, is there any utility for clearing space junk?

It has been proposed to use solar panels as solar sails and drag control by alternately feathering panels during different phases of orbit. It is claimed this can alter light pressure and drag enough ...
Woody's user avatar
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NASA’s NIAC has awarded phase III funding for Diffractive Solar Sails. Demonstration mission in the works?

Diffractive lightsails use small gratings embedded in thin films to produce diffraction (which causes light to spread out when it passes through a narrow opening). Diffractive light sails are a ...
Woody's user avatar
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0 votes
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Slowing down 16 Psyche using an enormous solar sail to reach the inner planets

I am writing a sci-fi story and would like my science as hard as possible. I was thinking of using the solar sail as a kind of sea anchor. Slowing down, the asteroid would move down to the inner ...
Tais Teng's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
214 views

Solar Turbines on the moon

Related to other questions about power generation on the moon. URL's will be added shortly... Given that force is experienced by objects hit by sunlight, such as a solar sail, would a turbine of some ...
AnarchoEngineer's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
80 views

What is the optimal planetary sunshade arrangement?

To cool a planet down, one may place a sunshade between the planet and the Sun. On its own, this is not stable due to radiation pressure, so a simple scheme like a big circular piece of aluminium foil ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
44 views

What size of a solar sail would you need to overcome orbital decay? [duplicate]

Specifics of the question: Placed into a 400km 0 inclination orbit 10 kg 20cm cube Able to orient itself in any direction Let’s say we want this satellite to be able to indefinitely orbit earth. ...
Topcode's user avatar
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Solar Sail mission

Sorry for my English. I'm not native speaker I would like your advice in solar sail mission simulation. The purpose is to compare results with results in Wolfram Mathematica. We have CubeSat with ...
Nikita's user avatar
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2 votes
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Solar sail for a 3U cubesat: do we have to buy one or can we design one?

We are working on a conceptual design for a 3U CubeSat with solar sail propulsion; we aren’t actually building one or buying one. However we still need to make decisions like whether to build our own ...
GEAUXTIGHAS's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
192 views

Why do "Relativistic Light Sails Need to Billow"?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science blogpost How to Design a Sail that Won’t Tear or Melt on an Interstellar Voyage links to two new Nano Letters papers: Matthew ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Is there any more information available on JWST's "aft momentum flap"

I gather that the James Web Space Telescope (JWST) has just deployed its "aft momentum flap". However I cannot find much other information. It is described as the "aft" momentum ...
Roger Wood's user avatar
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To what extent could JWST continue to be useful after the propellant runs out?

I see a similar question answered, but this is perhaps more specific. There's a lot of description about the James Web Space Telescope (JWST) operation during its planned mission. But I gather JWST ...
Roger Wood's user avatar
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3 votes
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278 views

How will NEA Scout control its attitude during deep space flight & keep its camera steady without vibrations or damage to its 85 m² solar sail?

Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy's Fly Me to the Moon and Then to a Near-Earth Asteroid describes Near Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout, or just Scout) a 6U cubesat that will be deployed from Artemis ...
uhoh's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
283 views

How many existing satellites have a continuously varying orbit because of human design decisions?

In the space community, there is an assumption that changes to an Earth satellite's orbit are infrequent (other than those due to atmospheric drag). Are there any known satellites designed to ...
tdMJN6B2JtUe's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
63 views

What are the main challenges to boosting or driving smaller solar sails with a constellation of separate reflectors?

This is to continue expanding the idea of using smaller solar sails, but increasing the energy they receive from the Sun by having a constellation1 of satellites with mirrors + lenses. For context, I ...
germanio's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
105 views

Is it possible to have smaller solar sails and increase the amount of energy they receive with a constellation of mirrors?

Since a solar sail needs to have a huge area to capture enough energy from the Sun, but also be thin to make it easier to move, its design and materials are a big engineering challenge. Is it possible ...
germanio's user avatar
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25 votes
3 answers
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How realistic is the 1 kg/km² solar sail in "Death's End"?

(This question has been migrated from the SciFi StackExchange.) From Cixin Liu's 2010 sci-fi novel Death's End (pages 68–69): "A radiation sail can be made very thin and light. Based on the ...
Quuxplusone's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
149 views

Are solar sail spirals logarithmic? Can this be shown analytically or by dimensional analysis alone?

There are several questions and answers here about spiraling towards or away from the Sun using solar sails tilted by roughly 45 degrees to convert the sunlight's incoming radial momentum into ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why did my vis-viva math solution get so close despite being wrong? Under what conditions would it have been a good approximation?

I tried to answer Equation for Velocity and distance from Sun of a solar sail powered spacecraft but I'm missing something. I set up a math solution and got about 0.4 year to reach zero velocity based ...
uhoh's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
957 views

Equation for Velocity and distance from Sun of a solar sail powered spacecraft

I have an interest in solar sails as a method of propulsion. I have thought of the following interesting question about the workings of solar sails, which I just don’t have the mathematical ability to ...
John Davies's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
70 views

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
4 votes
1 answer
270 views

Why isn't "cylindrical alien derelict spacecraft" more common in theories of Oumuamua as an alien probe?

When the mysterious extrasolar object, named Oumuamua, was detected and characterized, the leading analysis of its signal strongly suggested that it was a long, cylindrical or cigar-shaped object. And ...
ikrase's user avatar
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3 votes
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Where will the DSCOVR mission Falcon 9 2nd stage rocket body end up?

This answer to Why would a mission to Sun-Earth L1 have an instantaneous launch window? suggests that this was quite a delta-v-intensive launch. It left the F9 2nd stage in a very high 17 day orbit ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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Do a significant proportion of cubesats (or any at all) have articulated solar panels/sails which can be pointed at the Sun?

It appears that for early cubesats the solar panels were simply fixed flat to the sides of the spacecraft, and even deployable panels were not part of early cubesat designs. Have a significant number ...
tdMJN6B2JtUe's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
339 views

Would the Yarkovsky effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun?

Previously I'd mistakenly asked Would the Poynting–Robertson effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun? when I'd meant to ask about the Yarkovsky effect which can be much ...
uhoh's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
137 views

Why would photon pressure be needed to keep ParkinsonSAT Spinning?

This answer to Can a satellite work like a radiometer? says (in part): ...the US Naval Academy cubesat ParkinsonSAT was designed with four faces asymmetrical, with solar panels offset to one side ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
321 views

Why put chromium on the back side of this JPL-designed solar sail?

This 2013 JPL presentation Solar System Escape Architecture for Revolutionary Science March 2013 Conference NIAC Phase 1: 2012-2013 by PI: Jeff Nosanov Co-Is: Dr. Daniel Grebow, Dr. Brian Trease, John ...
uhoh's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
226 views

Would the Poynting–Robertson effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun?

In this answer to Do you need 0 km/s velocity to crash into the sun? I mention solar sails for retrograde thrust and the Poynting–Robertson as two ways an object could ever-so-slowly spiral into the ...
uhoh's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
57 views

Using a solar sail to concentrate sunlight at large distances

Space probes which travel to the outer planets usually use RTGs to provide power as photovoltaic cells are impractical at those distances from the Sun. Solar sail could be used to first propel the ...
JohnEye's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
623 views

Influence of solar wind and radiation pressure on a sail

Solar wind is composed of a mixture of materials travelling between 250 and 750 km per second. Radiation pressure involves electromagnetic field travelling at light speed. If considering a sail in ...
user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
966 views

Can dust be in orbit around a spacecraft which orbits the Earth or Moon?

In the title above, Can dust be in orbit around a spacecraft which orbits the Earth or Moon? let's define "in orbit" to mean gravitationally bound to the spacecraft long enough to go around it a few ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
220 views

calculating the terminal velocity of a theoretical solar sail when reaching a distance d where acceleration is insignificant

I am trying to calculate the terminal velocity of a solar sail starting at distance 1AU. I know that my sail will accelerate and its acceleration will be inversely proportional to the distance squared....
user34078's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
554 views

Statites - Are they possible in anything but theory?

In this question someone mentioned the idea of a Statite, a satellite which is stationary above a planet without being in orbit, usually in an orientation which is not possible with an orbit. It seems ...
Magic Octopus Urn's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
349 views

Could a framework of mirrors static in space above the Lunar south pole illuminate a moonbase there continuously?

Edit: For clarification of what I mean with "static in space above the Lunar south pole " please see this answer from @Tom Spilker or his answer to the question Orbits that allows ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
345 views

Could a solar sail composed of smart glass stay near the L1 point of Venus?

From answers to this question i've learned that the Lagrangian L$_1$ point of Venus is not stable, despite the almost circular orbit of the planet and the fact that it has no moon. Nevertheless would ...
Cornelis'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
246 views

Does Lightsail-2 take significant advantage of the Oberth effect?

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 In the near future,...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
203 views

Tacking a solar sail to increase duration of acceleration

Because the utility of a solar sail diminishes the further it travels away from the sun (max. distance ~50 AU), the longer it can stay in closer proximity to the sun the longer it can accelerate. Is ...
SolarisRa's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
76 views

Can impact lift produce greater than 1 lift to drag ratio?

At orbital velocity in low circular Earth's orbit, at an altitude where mean free path exceeds cross sectional area of a craft or wing. therefore aerodynamic lift becomes impossible (Consider ...
user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
4k views

How will JWST manage solar pressure effects to maintain attitude and station keep it's unstable orbit?

The James Webb Space Telescope presents a huge reflective cross-section to the Sun's photons, and this can generate both torque and thrust. How will JWST manage solar pressure effects to maintain ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
178 views

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
3 votes
1 answer
263 views

Could protons in the Sun's solar wind be used to create a photonic laser thruster for a spacecraft?

I have a conceptual idea for a photonic laser thruster for a spacecraft and I am wondering if this particular idea has already been thought of and whether or not it is capable of generating enough ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
105 views

Effective range of a laser propelled solar sail

The ongoing Breakthrough Starshot program proposes the use of high powered lasers on Earth to be aimed at a solar sail with the intention of propelling it to the star Alpha Centauri. To be more ...
PolyversialMind's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
144 views

Can a solar mirror increase an ion engine 's output?

Could an ideal size solar sail work as a parabolic mirror to increase the out put of an ion engine? Would the extra weight encumber the ion engine nullifying the increases sunlight on the ion engine? ...
Muze's user avatar
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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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6 votes
1 answer
366 views

Could the International Space Station be fitted with solar sails?

How much solar sail and vane surface area would be needed to replace the boosts needed to keep the ISS in orbit? Could this be done at a higher orbit minimizing atmospheric drag? What is the closest ...
Muze's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
428 views

What is the optimal angle for a solar-sail deorbit towards the Sun when radial thrust is included?

In this answer there's a geometrical derivation of the optimal angle of a solar sail to deorbit a spacecraft into the Sun. The naive answer is 45° which would direct the reflected light directly ...
uhoh's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
55 views

Is there a solar sail design that can deploy and retract at will?

I know a mission to Venus was conducted using a solar sail -- however, once unfurled using rotation kinetic energy, it could not be retracted. Would retracting a solar sail cause uncontrollable ...
Magic Octopus Urn's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
298 views

What is the functional form for r(t) for a solar-sail deorbit into the Sun?

This answer describes a spacecraft in a heliocentric orbit using a solar sail to "deorbit" into the Sun by reflecting sunlight into roughly the prograde direction. In comments it was proposed that ...
uhoh's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
996 views

Is it possible to reach the Sun without expending any fuel/reaction mass?

Imagine that I'm designing a space probe, that will initially be placed into an Earth-like orbit around the Sun. My goal is to have the probe fly/fall into the Sun; it's allowed to take as much time ...
Jeremy Friesner's user avatar