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solar sail

noun
1.
Aerospace. a design concept for spacecraft propulsion consisting of a very thin, very large sheet of highly polished material that would be driven by the pressure of sunlight.
Origin
1955-1960
1955-60
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for solar sail
  • So e-sail got rid of the physical solar sail but you need solar panels.
  • The beam will reflect off the astronaut and thrust him toward the ship as if he were a solar sail.
  • So you can either shoot a laser beam out the back of a spacecraft or bounce one off a big solar sail to drive something.
  • The even tried to launch, well paid to launch, a solar sail test vehicle a year or two back.
  • In theory, a solar sail could be used as propulsion for round-trip missions in the solar system.
  • Above is an artist's rendering of a four-quadrant solar sail propulsion system.
British Dictionary definitions for solar sail

solar sail

noun
1.
a device that reflects light particles from the Sun, gaining momentum in the opposite direction to propel spacecraft forwards
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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solar sail in Science
solar sail  
A saillike device that is made of lightweight and highly reflective material and attached to a spacecraft to harness the radiation pressure of the solar wind and light for propulsion. Also called light sail.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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