Path to Mars #971: Sailing on Light

Solar sailing - image credit: L'Garde Inc.

If you haven’t heard already, two Toronto teens recently managed to send a Lego man into near space just for kicks, using a weather balloon. Quite an impressive feat!

If you are longing to send something into space, but don’t want to carry out your own teen-science mission, you can always piggyback on Lightsail.

Lightsail is a three-part mission being conducted in co-operation with The Planetary Society, an American group that advocates space exploration, and JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

An artist's rendition of Lightsail. Nice work, Rick Sternbach, artist!

Rather than using helium to float up into the atmosphere, the kite-like Lightsail-1 will utilize solar light to propel a spacecraft. The more ambitious follow-up missions,  Lightsail-2 and Lightsail-3, hope to reach further into space with the goal of ending up at the Sun-Earth Liberation Point (L1), establishing a permanent solar weather station.

An Oprah-Approved Vision Board: A Plan for Sailing to the Sun

So how can you get involved? While you can’t exactly grab the kite tail and ride into space as literally as Lego Man, you can send your name, along with a message, via The Planetary Society’s Lightsail webpage. Your name and message will be included on a mini-DVD that will be launched into space and propelled by light on the mission. The cost? Absolutely nothing. And to boot, you get to print out an awesome official participation certificate! Check it out:

Of course, if you’d like to give back to The Planetary Society to thank them, consider joining up as a member, or volunteering in any way that suits your own personal talents.

It’s a small price to pay, for passage on light.

Blast Off!

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About Renate Pohl

Theatre Designer, Space and Stained Glass Artist, Writer.
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