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

The solar sail is propelled only by sunlight, and its technology holds promise for early detection of major events in space, as well as travel across vast distances. Rhett Allain, WIRED, "Hey Teachers, Get to Know Your Students' Preconceptions," 22 Aug. 2019 This spacecraft would be equipped with a solar sail, using the sun’s energy to make its journey. Amy Thompson, Smithsonian, "LightSail 2 Launches to Space to Soar on the Power of Sunshine," 25 June 2019 The Planetary Society, for instance, has created a crowdfunded solar sail project called LightSail. Andrealeinfelder, Houston Chronicle, "Bill Nye to speak at Houston commercial space conference," 5 Sep. 2019 The amount of force the photons will apply to the solar sail is equal to about 9 micro-Newtons per square meter. Daniel Oberhaus, WIRED, "SpaceX Is Launching a Solar Sail the Size of a Boxing Ring," 24 June 2019 That’s the idea behind a solar sail, like the ones in the Planetary Society’s LightSail and LightSail 2 missions. Bobak Ferdowsi, Popular Mechanics, "Why I Want To Put a Kindle in Space," 9 Aug. 2018 Further Reading SpaceX just aced a critical Air Force test of its Falcon Heavy rocket A solar sail is a material in space with a bright, mirror like surface. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "So, how much did the Planetary Society’s light sail really sail?," 2 Aug. 2019 Planetary Society had hoped to reach that milestone years earlier, but its first solar sail was destroyed during a rocket explosion in 2005. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "Bill Nye's experimental spacecraft that sails on sunlight declares mission success," 31 July 2019 Sagan even presented a model of a solar sail on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1976. Loren Grush, The Verge, "Spacecraft designed to ride on sunlight deploys its reflective solar sail," 23 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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Last Updated

18 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for solar sail

The first known use of solar sail was in 1958

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to fake an opponent out of position

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