Solar Sail

Solar sail is a technology to propel spacecrafts using the optical pressure from the sun. Two video cameras will monitor the shape of the sail to estimate the optical pressure and the acceleration.



Solar sail is a promising technology for propelling spacecrafts to farther distances more quickly without carrying excessive amounts of fuel. The concept of solar sail is simple but the technologies are difficult and delicate: the sail must be highly reflective and extremely light-weight (thus, extremely thin). Moreover, the acceleration is directly proportional to the size of the sail and it is desirable to build enormous sails for faster acceleration.

This project will model the relationship of the sail's shape and the optical pressure. Two video cameras will monitor the sail and acquire images. The project will process the images and determine the optical force pushing the sail.


The members are expected to have finished one semester of calculus and one programming course.

Meeting Times:

  • Fall 2021: Tuesdays, 4:00 - 4:50pm (online)