LightSail 2 is Sending Home New Pictures of Earth
LightSail 2 captured this image of Earth on July 7th. It’s looking at the Caribbean Sea towards Central America, with north roughly at the top. The blue-green color of the ocean around the Bahamas can be seen at the picture’s 1:00 position. A lens flare is visible in the lower right. Image Credit: The Planetary Society
LightSail 2, the brainchild of The Planetary Society, has gifted us two new gorgeous images of Earth. The small spacecraft is currently in orbit at about 720 km, and the LightSail 2 mission team is putting it through its paces in preparation for solar sail deployment sometime on or after Sunday, July 21st.
LightSail 2 is a modular CubeSat that measures 10 × 10 × 30 cm. The solar sails, once deployed, will measure 32 square meters (340 sq ft). The spacecraft was designed to test a solar sail’s ability to both raise a satellite’s orbit and lower its orbit. Right now the spacecraft is being tested and analyzed in advance of deploying its sails.
Flight controllers recently uploaded a software patch related to LightSail 2’s stability system. According to The Planetary Society, the patch “refined the operation of the spacecraft’s electromagnetic torque rods, which are responsible for keeping LightSail 2 stable as it circles the Earth.”
LightSail 2 captured this image of Mexico on July 12th, 2019. The image is looking east across Mexico. The tip of the Baja Peninsula is on the left, and on the far right is Tropical Storm Barry. Image Credit: The Planetary Society
Read all about it at RL.