Solar radiation pressure
The source of motive force for solar sail spacecraft is the momentum transported to the sail by radiative energy from the Sun. While the observation that light can push matter is quite contrary to everyday experience, it is a commonplace mechanism in the solar system. Perhaps the most striking example is the elegant beauty of comet tails. Comets have in fact two distinct tails: an ion tail swept out by the solar wind and a dust tail swept out by solar radiation pressure. As will be seen, however, light pressure is by far the dominant effect on solar sails.
KeywordsSolar Wind Radiation Pressure Solar Disc Solar Radiation Pressure Solar Sail
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