The different types of solar sail designs

Solar Sails  |   Design Types

There are three main design types for solar sails, each severing a different propose.

Square Sail

Heliogyro Sail

Spinning Disk Sail

These sails can generate higher force then average solar sails due to the large surface area. Usually these sails are composed of four masks, as seen above, which are then deployed into space. The large advantage the square sail has over others sails is that there are no hot spots because the sail protects the spacecraft from the sun's thermal heat. The square sail is the most popular of all the sails due to its simplistic shape and large surface area.

Developed by JPL in the 1970's, this type has a stronger structure. It uses angular momentum that eliminates the need for supports and struts, resulting in a lighter spacecraft. The blades are controlled similarly to that of a helicopter, by changing the pitch and cycle to maneuver.

Also developed by JPL, this sail has small gaps between sail masks to help maximize the amount of surface area similar to the square sail design.

Solar Sail Transportation

Inner Planets

Traveling or transporting items in the inter planets of our solar system time periods are below. The time it takes to travel between planets is dependent on the distance, mass of spacecraft, sail surface area, and light intensity. Below is a table to travel to inner solar system planets from Earth using solar sails.

Outer Planets