Home > Science & Technology > SOLAR SAILING, THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT.




Solar Sailing is one of the best techniques used in spacecraft nowadays. Solar sails are also known as photon sails. It contains a large reflective sail that captures the energy of light from the sun and use that energy to push the spacecraft with high momentum. Solar sail saves the fuel and provides so much radial energy to the spacecraft. The solar sail has a lot of potentials to carry the object from planet to stars without using fuels.

Science has become BOON to us when it comes to the term of technology. Here you will get to know about the structure, working, benefits of using solar sail in the different fields.

Making of Sail:-

The most common material used for making the sail is a thin layer of aluminum coating. It basically provides mechanical support and flexibility to the sail. These coatings are used to resist the heat of the sun. They provide strength to the spacecraft. In the year 2000, scientists discovered new carbon fiber that is very useful for solar sailing. These carbon fiber are around 200 times thicker than previously used aluminum coating but due to porous in nature, it has the same mass as aluminum. These carbon metal can easily withstand the high temperature.

Physical principles of solar sailing:-

Many people believe that the working of the spacecraft using the solar sail is the same as working of boats with sails that are pushed by the winds. But it’s not a true fact. Actually, solar radiation exerts pressure on the sail due to reflection. Due to this pressure, our spacecraft gets a certain momentum to reach a specific destination.

The momentum of the photon is given by Einstein’s relation:-  P = E/C.

Where P is the momentum, E is the energy of the photon, and C is the speed of light.

The ideal sail will reflect 100% of the radiation but the actual sail absorbs some of the photons and will reflect around 90% radiation.


Configuration of sails:-

In 2010, MAKARIOS launched the first-ever solar vehicle. It was not fully successful because it was not proved for long-duration missions.

The sail was square in shape with tip mass added in each corner. But after further research scientists developed the long durable sails.  The sail was made of thin polypeptide film, coated with aluminum film. Sails work on the proper absorption of photons and convert these into the required energy.




This category covers the target which uses the social mission to meet, perhaps bound the orbit to all the planets and asteroids. A lot of research work has been done about making this process perfect. Lots of project work has also been done regarding solar sailing.



The use of solar sail for outer solar system assignation missions has been long discussed within literature. This kind of mission is very unattractive because the target body moves further from the sun. This process is considered unsuitable due to inverse square variation.



Solar sail fulfills so many daily needs of the people. So many project works are performed like a solar vehicle, charger, and so many other things. It saves our fuels and electricity to so many extents. Solar sails are long-lasting device has become the need of the people nowadays.

At last, I would like to tell you that there are lots of research work going on this topic and this is full of opportunity in the coming future.

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