Lightsail 2 spacecraft’s solar sail deploys

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Photos transmitted from The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 spacecraft orbiting Earth confirm that it has successfully deployed its solar sail.

The spacecraft was launched from Florida last month and images from this week’s deployment sequence were downlinked from the orbiter by flight controllers at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

One image shows a large part of the sail with much of Mexico and its Baja California peninsula on the Earth below.

The sail is formed by four triangular sheets of extremely thin, reflective Mylar that form a square about the size of a boxing ring.

The project is an experiment to see if the momentum of photons hitting the sail will accelerate the craft sufficiently to raise its orbit.

Such sails could potentially propel tiny satellites known as CubeSats.

Chris Price
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