Circular Sail

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Circular sails are large, spinning disks supported only by lightweight tension lines to carry loads except at the center, where a structure is needed to carry loads between the payload, control system, and sail. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) studied a solar sail design similar to those shown below in the late 1970's for a rendezvous with Halley's comet. A similar design was developed by JPL for the Interstellar Probe mission[1]

Circular solar sail
Close-up view

The pictures below are the original images for this page that were rendered with the Persistance of Vision Ray Tracer (Povray). This sail is controlled by allowing sail panels to move outwards so sunlight pushes off center to turn the sail. Select here for the Povray source.

Circular sail done in Povray
Close-up view


  1. Garner, Charles E and Layman, William and Gavit, Sarah A and Knowles, Timothy. A Solar Sail Design for a Mission to the Near-Interstellar Medium. Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF - 2000) , 2000. BibTeX [Garneretal2000]
Reference library: BibTeX