Reply to post: Re: Lightsail-assisted

LightSail 2 successfully unfurls its silvery solar sails, prepares to become a truly solar-powered satellite

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Lightsail-assisted

Thanks, that's the questions about the onboard power and solar panels answered.

We all know what the momentum wheel is for.

"the next year is to attempt to change it's orbit using just photons from the sail. The momentum wheel will be used to tack." is pretty much what I said.* The changes it can make to the orbit are trivial, no more than a bit of manoeuvring, this lightsail simply does not rate "powered" by. I hope the next one will.

* But take care with the sailing analogies. "Tacking" is a technique for sailing overall into the wind, not just crosswind or downwind. A good Bermuda rig can tack faster than the wind is blowing, you can think of its sail as a force amplifier. Lightsails behave more like Newtonian flat plates, they can sail across the photon wind to some extent but they cannot tack back towards the sun. There is a way to manoeuvre a lightsail inbound, by reducing its orbital velocity, but that ain't tacking neither.

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