Last week, the LightSail 2 officially made its first contact with Earth. The solar-powered spacecraft will be sailing around Earth’s orbit for the next year, all part of a mission to prove that solar sailing is a viable mode of space exploration.
If successful, the hope is that solar sailing could be used in other spacecraft going forward, something that could allow us to explore further in space at a lower cost than is currently possible.
It’s a pretty cool idea and one that could ultimately have an impact on how we explore space in the future. And you can track it in real time from your computer whenever you want.
Now that the LightSail 2 is communicating with Earth, the folks from The Planetary Society that put the vessel in space are making some of its stats available through an online dashboard that’s free for anyone to look at.
With it, you can see things like how long the LightSail 2 has been on its mission, whether or not its sail is stowed, and what the internal temperature of the spacecraft is right now. You can also see where the vessel is right now and what path it’s expected to take, in case you want to try and snag a look as it passes overhead.
If you’re a space fan, it’s a pretty neat thing to check out, especially for that fly-by potential once the sail is deployed. And if that’s not enough, you can also track the LightSail 2’s progress in narrative form on The Planetary Society’s blog.