Have you guys heard of the LightSail project?
Run by The Planetary Society (the world’s largest private non-profit space organization), LightSail is a crowdfunded project that successfully launched a solar sail driven spacecraft into Earth orbit in June 2019 in an effort to lower the cost of space exploration.
While not the first spacecraft to successfully use solar sails, LightSail 2 has managed to slow down the deterioration of its orbit and on occasion to reverse drag created by the atmosphere and correct course. Indeed: one of the mission’s functions is doubling as a probe of far-atmospheric thickness.
LightSail 2 deployed its solar sail in July 2019, and has been sending data down to Earth since then. Access the LightSail project page or LightSail 2 mission control for some interesting browsing.
Really cool, isn’t it?
Image: Australia and New Guinea from LightSail 2 by The Planetary Society (CC BY-NC 3.0)
Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.