With Kepler a little wobbly on its pins, NASA has come up with an idea that will probably sound as if its scientists have reached for the sci-fi. But it's perfectly serious: the agency has tested the idea of using light pressure to help stabilise the spacecraft. The sad ending to the original Kepler mission is well-known: it was …
Not all that sci-fi.
After all, successful tests have been conducted (though rather smaller in scale) on the theme of lightsails etc. So, science: yup, it's science. The method has been demonstrated to work. Fiction: it used to be fiction, but isn't any longer. They're putting it into practice.
I love it when a plan comes together... and my Kudos go to the likes of Asimov, Heinlein, Hildebrandt, Clarke, L.N. Smith, et infinite al for having seen the possibilities decades before we could do it.
Re: Not all that sci-fi.
Premature ejaculation in vitro. Let's see the real thing happen. And what might the explanation be when it doesn't.?
I'm fairly sure this *has* been used before
It's tricky and of course means the spacecraft has to limit its attitude but it keeps it working.
Thumbs up as getting it to work (and within 5% of ordinary capability) is pretty good.
Perhaps future spacecraft should be looking at their aerodynamic shape for some missions.
Also using magnetic fields to manage direction using components with no moving parts. Anyway have an input on what's possible via electomagnets?
Re: Aerodynamic spacecraft
Magnetic torquing is entirely possible but only used for satellites in LEO where there's a strong enough magnetic field for the electromagnets (or even permanent magnets) to react against.
You might also find the idea of an optical wing interesting- http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101205/full/news.2010.647.html?s=news_rss
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