Oct 12, 2016

Spherical shell laser sail would simplify interstellar laser sails

Posted by in category: space travel

The stability of a light sail riding on a laser beam is analyzed both analytically and numerically. Conical sails on Gaussian beams, which have been studied in the past, are shown to be unstable in general. A new architecture for a passively stable sail and beam configuration is proposed. The novel spherical shell sail design is capable of “beam riding” without the need for active feedback control. Full three-dimensional ray-tracing simulations are performed to verify our analytical results.

Arxiv — Stability of a Light Sail Riding on a Laser Beam (6 pages by Zachary Manchester, Abraham Loeb of Harvard)

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