For want of a spreadsheet, a LightSail is frozen

Waiting for a cosmic event.

The Space Trade Association

Have you tried restarting? Bill Nye’s LightSail needs a reboot due to software glitch
[Via GeekWire]

A glitch with a spreadsheet file has caused Bill Nye’s LightSail satellite to stop responding. With no communication, the Planetary Society may have to wait for a cosmic particle to hit the restart button for them before they can open the light-catching sail.


LightSail was just launched this week – a demonstration project from the Planetary Society to examine using large solar sails to move the craft around. 

Data used by the LightSail are written to an onboard spreadsheet. But if the spreadsheet gets too large, a bug in the software can cause the computer to freeze up.

Warned of the problem, engineers were ready to send a fix up to the satellite. As Jason Davis described:

Late Friday, the team received a heads-up warning them of the vulnerability. A…

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