Turn on the television to a news station and watch for a couple of hours. Undoubtedly, you will see footage or hear commentary of the protests in Egypt. It is a time of great crisis for Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and the ease of communication made possible by today’s technology is not helping. Despite shutting down the internet within Egypt, Mubarak has been unable to isolate the events from the world nor has he been able to contain them. On Friday, January 28, 2011 students at Ohio State University’s main campus in Columbus, Ohio formed their own protest at the corner of 14th Ave. and High St. advocating the removal of Mubarak from office. With Egyptian flags and anti-Mubarak signs the students shouted for reform, justice, and liberty for the Egyptian people.
So, what’s a solar sail anyways? And what does it do? And where can you find one? NASA’s NanoSail-D2 recently ejected itself from satellite FASTSAT on January 17, 2011 and deployed its sail after three days of floating freely in outer space. The NanoSail-D2 has a mass of 4 kilograms, roughly equivalent to 9 pounds, and its surface area spans a small 110 square feet; this is smaller than the floor space of the average cubicle. NanoSail-D2 is the second solar sail to successfully deploy, and it is the first to orbit the earth. The purpose of this sail will help NASA eliminate space junk in the future. The sails measure drag as the instrument slowly enters the atmospher of earth, which will make it possible to remove future satellites from orbit decreasing the amount of potential space junk dancing around our planet. Because of the instrument’s proximity to earth’s surface, it appears extremely bright in the night sky. Before the instrument disintegrates in April or May of 2011, it will display some rather impressive light shows that will be 10 to 100 times brighter than Venus. NASA is holding a contest to see who can shoot the best shot of this little sail before it dissapears. Cash prizes will be rewarded for the top photos.
The Yuri Gagarin of solar sails.