solar sail


Definition of solar sail

: a propulsive device for a spacecraft that consists of a flat material (such as aluminized plastic) designed to receive thrust from solar radiation pressure

Examples of solar sail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With a solar sail, a spacecraft could keep going to the moon, to asteroids, to Jupiter — to anywhere the wind of light blows, using no fuel at all. NBC News, "Spacecraft that sail on sunshine could be the next big thing in spaceflight," 3 June 2019 After about a month, atmospheric drag will overpower the solar sail, ending the test. Robert Z. Pearlman, Scientific American, "Solar Sailing Success: Planetary Society Deploys LightSail 2," 23 July 2019 Later on, solar sails might also make new types of missions possible. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "LightSail 2′s success could pave the way for more sun-powered spacecrafts," 23 Jan. 2020 LightSail 1 eventually became the next solar sail to safely reach space in 2015. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "LightSail 2′s success could pave the way for more sun-powered spacecrafts," 23 Jan. 2020 On and around Earth, solar winds interfere with satellites, create auroras, and power solar sails in orbit. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This 'Big Red Ball' Can Replicate Solar Winds on Earth," 31 July 2019 By changing the angle of the sail relative to the Sun, a solar sail can theoretically raise its orbit, and this was the test the Planetary Society set for itself with the LightSail 2 mission. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "So, how much did the Planetary Society’s light sail really sail?," 2 Aug. 2019 Another cubesat will travel out to the small asteroid 1991VG under the power of a solar sail. Sarah Lewin Frasier, Scientific American, "NASA Picks Tiny Satellites to Ride on Giant Rocket's First Flight," 3 Feb. 2016 LightSail 2 was built to be the best-performing solar sail yet. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "Bill Nye's experimental spacecraft that sails on sunlight declares mission success," 31 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'solar sail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of solar sail

1958, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for solar sail

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The first known use of solar sail was in 1958

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Cite this Entry

“Solar sail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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