The SMART (Super Miniaturized Autonomous Reconfigurable Technology) Solar Sail is a deployable, fully autonomous solar sail for use in very fine station-keeping of a spacecraft. The solar sail would be highly deformable from an initially highly compressed configuration, yet also capable of enabling very fine maneuvering of the spacecraft by means of small sail-surface deformations.

The SMART Solar Sail would be connected to the main body of the spacecraft by a SMART multi-tether structure, which would include microelectromechanical system (MEMS) actuators like those of the frame plus tethers in the form of longer versions of the struts in the frame.

The SMART solar sail includes a reflective film stretched among nodes of a SMART space frame made partly of nano-tubule struts. A MEMS at each vertex of the frame spools and unspools nanotubule struts between itself and neighboring nodes to vary the shape of the frame. The MEMS is linked, either wirelessly or by thin wires within the struts, to an evolvable neural software system (ENSS) that controls the MEMS to reconfigure the sail as needed.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. For more information, contact the Goddard Strategic Partnerships Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-286-5810. Follow this link here  for more information.


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This article first appeared in the July, 2020 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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