Yesterday, July 23, a tiny spacecraft that moves in Earth orbit deployed its reflective solar sail, which allows it to move through the solar wind. The new spacecraft is called LightSail 2, it was built by the non-profit organization The Planetary Society, which stands for space exploration.
The main purpose of this project is to demonstrate a way to move in space without the help of chemical propellants, which can be heavy, toxic and expensive to use. This technology may be suitable for use both in Earth orbit and for movement within the Solar system. In theory, spacecraft will move where the solar wind is.
“You never run out of fuel,” told Bill Nye, the CEO of The Planetary Society, prior to LightSail 2’s launch. “That’s ideal for certain missions.”
Instead of relying on traditional fuels, LightSail 2 will work with the help of elementary particles of light – photons. Although photons have no mass, they move as fast as possible in the universe (the speed of light), so they have momentum. Each time photons collide with a reflective surface, they bounce off of it, causing a tiny push.
We want to remind: