Solar Sail

(redirected from Light sails)
Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.

solar sail

[′sō·lər ′sāl]
(aerospace engineering)
A surface of a highly polished material upon which solar light radiation exerts a pressure. Also known as photon sail.

Solar Sail


(or photon sail), a proposed means of spacecraft propulsion. It consists of very thin opaque sheeting—for example, a metallized polymeric film—that is set up on the vehicle in space and is capable, over a rather long period of time, of imparting a substantial speed to the vehicle owing to the action of solar radiation on the sail (seeLIGHT PRESSURE). A limitation on the use of a solar sail is that it can move the spacecraft in only one direc tion: away from the sun. Moreover, the force exerted by the solar radiation on the sail is small and decreases in inverse proportion to the square of the distance from the sun. The solar sail may find application in interplanetary flights.

References in periodicals archive ?
There are no light sails that could take such a beam without being obliterated.
And advances in light sails would allow microscale spacecraft within our own solar system to reach other planets in months, not years.
A light sail works by bouncing light, or in this case radio beams, off a huge reflective sheet to provide forward thrust.
Our analysis shows that beams used for powering large light sails could yield parameters that are consistent with FRBs," the researchers wrote in the study.
Basically, the authors of the study - Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam - state that the millisecondlong FRBs may be the result of a sufficiently advanced alien civilization trying to power spacecraft equipped with light sails (( something that scientists have also thought about doing ).
Using it can even help reduce summer slide, according to one study (light
He chose the company's name because a light sail (also known as a solar sail) moves through space via solar radiation pressure.