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Sun Resurrects Bill Nye's Dead LightSail!

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posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 03:19 PM
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As some of you may know, Bill Nye's private solar sail, called quite simply LightSail, has recently been launched into space.

But unfortunately, some time around the 23rd of May, the 26-feet large sail died. Its onboard computer shut down because of a memory overload, and the sail was basically brain-dead, unable to execute commands such as the deployment of the sail itself. The ship just uselessly drifted in space.

Until... The Sun ressurected it.

About a week ago, some random high-energy particle accidentally fired the computer's circuit back up, and the solar sail came back to life. To, of course, the scientists' (and, no doubt, investors') relief. Scientists believe that the benevolent particle most probably was a proton from the Sun, or perhaps from space (cosmic ray).

From the New York Times:


protons from the sun and cosmic rays from distant supernovas whiz around all the time. Usually they are a nuisance to space missions, garbling computer data and calculations.

But in this case, engineers expected that a high-energy particle would jolt LightSail’s memory, causing it to restart.

After eight days, that is what happened, and a radio chirp was detected at the ground station at California State Polytechnic University.


What I really am fascinated by is the fact that some random high-energy particle had enough energy to give a boost to the circuit. I mean, sure I knew it was theoretically possible, but now I have the proof that it can and did happen.

Way to go, Sun. You're fantastic.




posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 03:21 PM
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So the question remains, was the jumpstart intelligently designed or did it evolve all on its own or was it created ?

edit on 6-6-2015 by Greathouse because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 03:23 PM
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Wow! Talk about a long shot!

Will they ever be able to say for sure how it happened? I imagine that could provide something useful in the future.

a reply to: swanne



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 03:29 PM
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Now just think about the cosmic rays that make it to your DNA



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 04:49 PM
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originally posted by: swanne

What I really am fascinated by is the fact that some random high-energy particle had enough energy to give a boost to the circuit. I mean, sure I knew it was theoretically possible, but now I have the proof that it can and did happen.



I remember many years ago cutting the top of canned transisters to make photosensitive devices, so I know its possible. Also inputs that are left floating are extremely sensitive, though I cant imagine they left anything floating on something being sent into space.

I wonder what happened, did the particle change a memory bit?



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 06:24 PM
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Pretty interesting. Hopefully it doesn't have a twelfth power energy field.



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 06:28 PM
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a reply to: swanne

What I really am fascinated by is the fact that some random high-energy particle had enough energy to give a boost to the circuit.
Enough energy to do this to a CCD. Enough energy to saturate a whole lot of pixels. (right click it)




I mean, sure I knew it was theoretically possible, but now I have the proof that it can and did happen.


“Free from the protection offered by the atmosphere, cosmic rays bombard us within Space Station, penetrating the hull almost as if it was not there. They zap everything inside, causing such mischief as locking up our laptop computers and knocking pixels out of whack in our cameras. The computers recover with a reboot; the cameras suffer permanent damage.

www.universetoday.com...
edit on 6/6/2015 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 7 2015 @ 06:07 AM
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And about two days ago they lost contact with LightSail again
.
The batteries aren't supplying power to it, you can check out their website for recent updates on the project.
I just checked and it seems it has woken from it's slumber again, the batteries had been tripped for whatever reason and wouldn't have the power to deploy the sail. Hopefully they figure out the issues so they can actually deploy it.

Latest Blog post



Engineers have been working to narrow down the reason LightSail’s batteries tripped into a safe mode-like condition following solar panel deployment. Before this afternoon's signal acquisition, the leading theory was that the spacecraft was stuck in a loop where power levels were too low in Earth's shadow, but too high in sunlight. This power ping-pong could have prevented the batteries from reattaching their circuits to the spacecraft and allowing normal operations to resume. The analysis is still ongoing.

edit on 7/6/15 by AzureSky because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 8 2015 @ 10:39 AM
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a reply to: Phage

Too true!



posted on Jun, 12 2015 @ 03:38 PM
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a reply to: AzureSky

Well things turned out all right: the LightSail deployment has been declared a success!

www.planetary.org...

This announcement is three days old.



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