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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.
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.
Enough energy to do this to a CCD. Enough energy to saturate a whole lot of pixels. (right click it)
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.
“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.
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.