Agriculture
Springing forward
Growing Healthier Tomato Plants
Making the most of a meal
Amphibians
Newts
Tree Frogs
Bullfrogs
Animals
Vampire Bats on the Run
Spotting the World's Leggiest Animal
The History of Meow
Behavior
Taking a Spill for Science
A Grim Future for Some Killer Whales
Listen and Learn
Birds
Carnivorous Birds
Ospreys
Penguins
Chemistry and Materials
Lighting goes digital
A Butterfly's Electric Glow
Atomic Drive
Computers
Fingerprint Evidence
Hubble trouble doubled
A New Look at Saturn's rings
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Fossil Fly from Antarctica
Some Dinos Dined on Grass
Big Fish in Ancient Waters
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Earth
Vitamin D-licious Mushrooms
Deep Drilling at Sea
Coral Islands Survive a Tsunami
Environment
Plant Gas
To Catch a Dragonfly
Where rivers run uphill
Finding the Past
Watching deep-space fireworks
Writing on eggshells
Preserving Ancient Warrior Paint
Fish
Tuna
Lampreys
Mahi-Mahi
Food and Nutrition
A Taste for Cheese
Building a Food Pyramid
Chew for Health
GSAT English Rules
Who vs. Whom
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Pronouns
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT Exam Preparation
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
Access denied - Disabled boy aces GSAT
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Mathematics
Deep-space dancers
How a Venus Flytrap Snaps Shut
Losing with Heads or Tails
Human Body
Remembering Facts and Feelings
Hey batter, wake up!
Cell Phones and Possible Health Hazards
Invertebrates
Ants
Scorpions
Giant Squid
Mammals
Whales
Minks
Yaks
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Physics
Project Music
Electric Backpack
Einstein's Skateboard
Plants
A Giant Flower's New Family
White fuzzy mold not as friendly as it looks
Springing forward
Reptiles
Reptiles
Iguanas
Sea Turtles
Space and Astronomy
Mercury's magnetic twisters
Older Stars, New Age for the Universe
Holes in Martian moon mystery
Technology and Engineering
A Micro-Dose of Your Own Medicine
Smart Windows
Crime Lab
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
Problems with Prepositions
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Transportation
Seen on the Science Fair Scene
Tinkering With the Basic Bike
Revving Up Green Machines
Weather
Catching Some Rays
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
In Antarctica watch the heat (and your step)
Add your Article

Riding Sunlight

Hundreds of years ago, sailing ships carried explorers across the ocean from Europe to America and beyond. A future generation of explorers might set sail, too—not across water, but across outer space. Later this year, researchers plan to test a solar sail spacecraft that uses sunlight instead of wind to move. In theory, spacecraft pushed by light could cruise at high speeds without using any fuel. Fast and practical travel to other planets and even stars might then become possible. The first solar sail flight could be monumental, says Louis Friedman. It could have the same sort of impact as the pioneering airplane flight made by the Wright brothers in 1903. Before the Wright brothers and other inventors showed the way, the idea of humans in flight seemed ridiculous to many people. A hundred years later, passenger jets and private planes crisscross the sky all day long. Now, it's the idea that sunlight can propel spacecraft that many people find hard to believe. Friedman and others are trying to turn this crazy idea into reality. The biggest challenge is figuring out how to do what you know should be possible, Friedman says. The forces are there. It's a matter of harnessing them. Friedman heads the Cosmos 1 solar sail project. He's also executive director of The Planetary Society in Pasadena, Calif. "The Wright brothers flew for 12 seconds," Friedman says. "They went nowhere, but they were successful. If we can fly for just 2 days, it'll be a success." Solar pressure Sailing in space is similar to sailing on water, with two major differences. There's no water in space. And there's no wind. This may sound confusing because there is something called a solar wind. Unlike the breezes we're used to on Earth, however, the solar wind is a stream of particles spit out by the sun. Magnetic fields help protect our planet from these particles. Solar sailing has nothing to do with the solar wind. Instead, solar sails catch rays of light. It may be hard to imagine, but sunlight itself can make objects move. Light is a form of energy, and it exerts pressure. We don't feel the pressure of sunlight on Earth because other forces that act on us are much stronger. Outer space, however, is practically empty. Nothing gets in the way of the force exerted by light. Understanding how solar sails work also hinges on a law of physics discovered by Isaac Newton in the 1600s. His third law of motion states that for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. For example, when you let air out of a balloon, the air shoots out in one direction and the balloon zips off in the opposite direction. On a skateboard, pushing your foot back makes the board go forward. Solar sails have mirror-like blades that reflect sunlight. When light gets reflected back in one direction, the sail moves in the opposite direction. Light travel Light exerts only a tiny amount of force. So, to get a real push, a solar sail must be as large and lightweight as possible. The solar sail developed by Friedman's team is made of a very light, shiny plastic. It has eight blades, arranged in a circle. Each blade is 15 meters (50 feet) long and even thinner than an ordinary garbage bag. At first, a solar sail might travel at no more than a few millimeters a second—slower than a snail. With nothing in space to slow it down, though, the sail could, in theory, reach speeds as high as 100,000 miles per hour, Friedman says. That would be fast enough to get to other planets in just a few years. Changing the angle of its sails would allow the spacecraft to change direction. It's like using a rudder to control a boat's direction. Launch date Friedman's team plans to launch its solar sail spacecraft, Cosmos 1, in March. This will be the first attempt to get light pressure to propel a vehicle in outer space. People are skeptical. "Even I'm not sure the first attempt will succeed," Friedman says. "But I don't think anyone thinks the theory is wrong." Friedman imagines a day in the distant future when solar sails would crowd space in the same way that airplanes crowd the sky on Earth today. For now, he and his team would be happy to take even a small step toward an entirely new category of space exploration. "We know with other inventions that people try, fail, try again, and then succeed," Friedman says. The dramatic flight of Cosmos 1 is coming up. It may turn out to be the start of a great adventure.

Riding Sunlight
Riding Sunlight








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™