One possible means of achieving space flight is to place a
perfectly reflecting aluminized sheet into Earth’s orbit and
to use the light from the Sun to push this solar sail. Suppose
such a sail, of area 6.00 x 104 m2 and mass 6.00 x 103 kg,
is placed in orbit facing the Sun. (a) What force is exerted
on the sail? (b) What is the sail’s acceleration? (c) How long
does it take this sail to reach the Moon, 3.84 x 108 m away?
Ignore all gravitational effects and assume a solar intensity of
1 340 W/m2. Hint: The radiation pressure by a reflected wave
is given by 2 (average power per unit area)/c.
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