February 11, 2011
Solar sail vessel unfurled
The idea that the electromagnetic radiation can exert pressure is an interesting idea that I taught in my physics courses. As an example, the idea of using the pressure from solar radiation to power a spacecraft has been around for a long time, and I used to give this as a homework problem.
It looks like it has finally come to fruition. Japan used one to fly by Venus in 2010 and now NASA has deployed one to orbit the Earth. Plans are underway to use one to fly to Jupiter later in the decade.
(via Machines Like Us.)