Over the weekend, the LightSail satellite unfurled its gigantic solar sail to help propel it through space. Now, the first images to be beamed back from the satellite prove that it’s really up and running.
The satellite, funded by The Planetary Society to test the technical and economic benefits of solar sails, was originally championed by Caral Sagan and, more recently, Bill Nye. When it first found itself in space, a software glitch stymied communication between it and Earth. But as of Saturday, engineers were able to make contact and deploy the solar sail, demonstrating proof-0f-concept of low-budget space travel. Now, we know they were really successful. A full mission in planned for next year. [The Planetary Society via Engadget]