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Raumfahrt - LightSail 2 captures stunning photos of Earth from space - Update

22.02.2020

LightSail 2 captures stunning photos of Earth from space

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An image of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden taken by a camera on LightSail 2 on Jan. 19, 2020.
(Image: © The Planetary Society)

LightSail 2 has been orbiting Earth for eight months now, and it has captured some stunning shots of our home planet during that time.

The Planetary Society built the spacecraft, which launched in June 2019 on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, to prove the potential of solar sailing. Rather than relying on conventional fuel, LightSail 2 uses a massive sail to catch photons (light particles) from the sun to power the spacecraft's orbit. The goal is for LightSail 2 to remain in orbit for about a year.

Spacecraft personnel have been evaluating LightSail 2's success throughout the mission and recently summarized what they've learned from the flight and how they've handled the anomalies that have occurred.

Based on the flight to date, those personnel have recommended that future solar sails feature solar panels on both sides of the sail, rather than on only one side. That's becauseLightSail 2 uses the one-sided design, and it's caused a few power-production problems for the spacecraft, according to the new report from the team.

The LightSail 2 mission team also recounted the spacecraft's difficulty in navigating Earth's cushy atmosphere, even at altitudes of 450 miles (720 kilometers). Those struggles suggest that solar sail missions will be most successful when targeting even higher altitudes around Earth or venturing into deep space.

But these missions might not be able to take quite as nice photos of Earth.

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An image from LightSail 2 shows the west coast of India on Jan. 21, 2020. 

An image of the northeast coast of South America taken by LightSail 2 on Jan. 11, 2020.

(Image credit: The Planetary Society)

An image of the northeast coast of South America taken by LightSail 2 on Jan. 11, 2020. 

A LightSail 2 image shows the Himalayas, Tibet and India on Jan. 31, 2020.

(Image credit: The Planetary Society)

A LightSail 2 image shows the Himalayas, Tibet and India on Jan. 31, 2020. 

An image of the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf taken by LightSail 2 on Dec. 14, 2019.

(Image credit: The Planetary Society)

An image of the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf taken by LightSail 2 on Dec. 14, 2019. 

An image of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden taken by a camera on LightSail 2 on Jan. 19, 2020.

(Image credit: The Planetary Society)

An image of the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden taken by a camera on

Quelle: SC

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Update: 12.05.2020

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Ten New Pictures from LightSail 2

This month, The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 mission spacecraft celebrates its 10th month in space. The spacecraft continues to successfully operate and use solar sailing for propulsion in low-Earth orbit. 

The mission team regularly captures images of LightSail 2's solar sails to see how their condition changes over the course of the mission. Those images often capture stunning vistas of Earth in the process. In honor of our 10th month in space, here are 10 new pictures from orbit.

You can view our entire gallery of LightSail 2 images here. We also have a page where you can see every raw image downlinked from the spacecraft.

SAIL AROUND PLANET EARTH WITH BILL NYE

Sail around Planet Earth with Bill Nye and Dr. Bruce Betts with real space photos taken by the crowdfunded LightSail 2 spacecraft!

Western Africa from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society

WESTERN AFRICA FROM LIGHTSAIL 2
This image taken by LightSail 2 on 8 February 2020 shows western Africa and the Niger River. North is at lower-left. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
The Red Sea and Nile River from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society

THE RED SEA AND NILE RIVER FROM LIGHTSAIL 2
This image taken by LightSail 2's camera 2 on 9 February 2020 shows the Red Sea and the Nile River. North is approximately at right. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
Chile from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society

CHILE FROM LIGHTSAIL 2
This image of Chile was taken by LightSail 2 on 17 February 2020. The Uyuni Salt Flat in Bolivia can be seen at the top-center. North is at right. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
LightSail 2 sees Cuba and the island of Hispaniola

The Planetary Society

LIGHTSAIL 2 SEES CUBA AND THE ISLAND OF HISPANIOLA
This image taken by LightSail 2's camera 1 on 30 January 2020 shows the Caribbean with the east end of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola. North is approximately at right. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
Shadows from LightSail 2 solar panels on sail

The Planetary Society

SHADOWS FROM LIGHTSAIL 2 SOLAR PANELS ON SAIL
This image taken by LightSail 2 on 13 February 2020 shows shadows from the spacecraft's solar panels on the solar sail. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
Central America from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society

CENTRAL AMERICA FROM LIGHTSAIL 2
This image of Central America was taken by LightSail 2 on 13 February 2020. Included in the image are Nicaragua, Central America, and Yucatan. North is at bottom. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
India at Night from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society

INDIA AT NIGHT FROM LIGHTSAIL 2
This image taken by LightSail 2 on 7 March 2020 shows Central India at night. Lights from major cities include Bengaluru, Anantapur, and Chennai. North is at left. The sail, which appears in the foreground, appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
Full Moon over LightSail 2

The Planetary Society

FULL MOON OVER LIGHTSAIL 2
This image taken by LightSail 2 on 7 March 2020 shows a nearly full Moon illuminating part of the solar sail. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens. The image has been color adjusted and some of the distortion has been removed.
LightSail 2 High-Resolution Deployment Sequence, Camera 1

The Planetary Society

LIGHTSAIL 2 HIGH-RESOLUTION DEPLOYMENT SEQUENCE, CAMERA 1
These high-resolution images were captured by LightSail 2's camera 1 during sail deployment on 23 July 2019. A fully deployed sail image was added at right. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens; no corrections have been made to the pictures.
LightSail 2 High-Resolution Deployment Sequence, Camera 2

The Planetary Society

LIGHTSAIL 2 HIGH-RESOLUTION DEPLOYMENT SEQUENCE, CAMERA 2
These high-resolution images were captured by LightSail 2's camera 2 during sail deployment on 23 July 2019. The sail appears slightly curved due to the spacecraft's 185-degree fisheye camera lens; no corrections have been made to the pictures.
Quelle: The Planetary Society
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