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

And Loeb has spent many long hours modeling the physics of solar sails, in helping to lead Yuri Milner's Breakthrough Starshot project (timestamp 18:55). Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Nailing down the nature of ‘Oumuamua—it’s probably a comet, but…," 29 Nov. 2018 Swartzlander's solar sails would power CubeSats, the tiny satellites that have become en vogue due to their low cost and ability to be built with low cost. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New NASA Satellite Could Be Powered By a Synthetic Solar Sail," 17 July 2018 This is the approach of LightSail 2—deploying the solar sail via CubeSat to prove it for large satellites. Bobak Ferdowsi, Popular Mechanics, "Why I Want To Put a Kindle in Space," 9 Aug. 2018 So what we're left with is primarily the challenge of building the material that will reflect light from the solar sail. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "The material science of building a light sail to take us to Alpha Centauri," 7 May 2018 And, based on how deeply those particles penetrate into other materials, there's a good chance that the hydrogen and helium will pass straight through the solar sail. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "The material science of building a light sail to take us to Alpha Centauri," 7 May 2018 The solution, perhaps, will rely on the principle of solar sails. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, "The Real Science Behind Your Favorite Nerd Culture at Awesome Con," 5 Apr. 2018 If this test is successful, solar sail technology could be deployed on future missions as low-cost, propellant-free propulsion to explore planets and moons in our Solar System. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Here’s the spaceflight stuff we’re most anticipating in 2018," 5 Jan. 2018 There are other proposals for getting rid of space junk, like attaching giant tethers to them and sending them careening into the atmosphere, targeted air puffs that induce drag, and solar sails. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China Proposes Orbiting Laser to Combat Space Junk," 20 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of solar sail

1958, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about solar sail

Share solar sail

Statistics for solar sail

Last Updated

27 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for solar sail

The first known use of solar sail was in 1958

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on solar sail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with solar sail

Comments on solar sail

What made you want to look up solar sail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


involving abstract or general statements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!