I was waiting for someone to piece both of these questions together into another question. @Dragongeek was the first, Could a solar panel be modified to create a static charge while spinning to remove dust during a dust storm?

This question asks how dust could be removed from a panel through spinning it: Fast spining solar cells to clear Martian dust possible?

This question asks how a static charge is made with spinning blades: Could electricty be generated from a Martian dust storm?

How could the solar panel be modified for a dual purpose? 1) Normal solar function while there is no dust storm. 2) Bach up self-cleaning mode while spinning to create a static charge from the dust storm.

Related: https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/113020/can-static-electricity-damage-solar-cells


1 Answer 1


Generally, you want to avoid building up a static charge. Static charges tend to be very high-voltage but low-energy, meaning they're good for destroying machinery, but not good for powering it.

It's quite easy to modify a solar panel to collect a static charge: just isolate it from the spacecraft's grounding system. But once you do that, you'll need to deal with miniature lightning bolts seeking a path to ground, and the shortest path probably goes through the electronics the solar panels normally power. Not a good thing.

  • $\begingroup$ Could be used to collect that before it builds up too high? Without interfering with normal functions? Wind turbine solar cell static charge collector? $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 0:25

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