2010 May See At least Two Solar Sails Afloat in Space
After sailing in water and in air, it is time to unfurl sails in the space and year 2010 may actually be marked as the year of beginning of solar sailing. Two different space experiments are set to use light pressure from sun to demonstrate that space propulsion is possible. These sail will be covered with a thin solar cells film to generate required electricity to acquire and transmit data. If these work then one would not need chemical fuels to drift around within solar system. These sails will be best energy efficient and zero emission way to study the sun and other planets.
The mission Japan Aerospace agency will launch Ikaros sometime in next May while Planetary Society’s Mission is set to sail LightSail1 at the end of 2010. These solar sails may usher in a new wave of space research to study sun and nearby stars using large thin structure which will use energy of photon (light particles) for moving in space and collecting data. These will be kite like structures floating in space using solar energy instead of heavy satellites and spacecrafts that will collect data to unravel mysteries of our solar system. This will be first instance of exclusive use of alternate energy in space research.