Since this Tuesday, Light Sail 2, the solar sail sent into space by Planetary Society is fully deployed and functional.
The 32 m² sail made of a reflective Mylar polyester film has been deployed and will soon be tested to develop what could become the means of propulsion of future probes for deep space.
The sail of Light Sail 2 will act like a sail on Earth except that it will not be the air and the wind which will push it, but the photons of the sun which will exert a sufficient pressure to move it.
This technology has several advantages: on the one hand the propulsion modules are particularly compact and light, which makes them perfect for their phase of access to space. In addition, this technology makes it possible to have a propulsion system without having to manage fuel stocks. On paper, this sail could sail eternally in the universe, as long as the photons of one or more stars come to touch it.
Moreover, this type of sail would achieve speeds never exploited by traditional engines. The acceleration, slow initially, will be exponential and will achieve extraordinary speeds giving us access to unexpected areas of the universe.