Looking at this illustration about solar radiation pressure on a perfect reflective surface, incident photon exchanges its momentum to the slanted surface which provides a reaction force whose vector is not colinear to incident photon. This allows solarsails to generate thrust in a desired direction.

solar radiation pressure (source)

Question is:

If we replace the photon by an individual air molecule met by a similar slanted surface at orbital velocity, 300km altitude in low Earth's circular orbit. (altitude at which solar radiation pressure is not the dominant force relative to thin atmospheric drag and disturbancies)

Still Knudsen number is high enough so that mean free path is greater than cross-section of slanted surface. (so there is no fluid dynamics related behaviour involved at all)

Can the momentum exchange between the slanted surface and the air molecule also provide a reaction force which is not colinear to incident air molecule?

Can such an air molecule hitting the slanted surface at 7.7km/s be reflected or deflected under certain conditions (angle of incidence, surface material) so that reaction force isn't colinear to incident air molecule, and therefore produce a net "thrust" at some point?

Or would this air molecule be in any case absorbed by the surface, and produce heat and colinear drag, and only heat and colinear drag?


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