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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 - Software - Patch - LightSail
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.”
We also have two new images from LightSail 2. As the satellite passed over ground stations, it used excess bandwidth to transmit the high-resolution images.
Flight - Controllers - Satellite - Attitude - Control
The flight controllers also tested the satellite’s attitude control system. They put that system into solar sailing mode for an entire orbit. Some of the telemetry from that orbit is stored, and some is in real-time. Controllers will analyze all the data to see how the spacecraft performed in solar sailing mode, before the sail system is deployed.
LightSail 2 has sensors that track the position of the Sun during sailing. The mission team recently spent time evaluating software updates to that system of sensors. They used LightSail 2’s engineering clone—called BenchSat—at Cal Poly...
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