Linked Questions

19 votes
2 answers
4k views

How far from the Sun can solar power be used as a reliable energy source?

Space probes headed for the far reaches of our Solar System rely on radioisotope thermoelectric generators for power (Cassini–Huygens, Voyager 1, Voyager 2). Presumably this is because solar power ...
JohnB's user avatar
  • 2,172
5 votes
3 answers
2k views

How bright is starlight in deep space?

Say I'm way out in deep space and on EVA. If I turn off all sources of illumination, can I basically still see, or am I severely impaired by darkness? Of course I can still see the stars, but will ...
Jared K's user avatar
  • 444
6 votes
3 answers
290 views

concentrating starlight with mirrors for photovoltaics in deep space

would it be feasible to use mirrors to concentrate starlight in order to produce efficient solar panels in interstellar space? could we produce enough electricity to provide ongoing propulsion?
steven c johnson's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
265 views

Mass ratio of solar-electric versus radioisotope thermo-electric power for propulsion; beyond how many AU do RTGs win?

Solar-electric propulsion has been used several times now in deep space missions. This question explores the scalability in comparison to Radioisotope thermoelectric generation or other nuclear-based ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
2 votes
2 answers
193 views

best way to generate electricity on any planet's dark side

What options are available for generating electricity in a space colony if it is at the planet's darkest point all year around without help from nearby outposts?
Osm's user avatar
  • 121
6 votes
1 answer
276 views

Why use plutonium when sunlight is everywhere? Any proposals to use concentrated solar power instead of Pu238 as a heat source for TGs?

Why use plutonium when sunlight is everywhere? The case for powering thermoelectric generators (TG) with concentrated solar rather than plutonium: Spacecraft operating in the inner Solar System ...
Woody's user avatar
  • 22.1k
4 votes
2 answers
485 views

Temperature of photovoltaic cells vs efficiency - is it ever actively controlled?

The efficiency of photovoltaic cells is surprisingly strong function of junction temperature. Hotter usually means lower efficiency. If one searches for example for images and sites tagged with "...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
6 votes
1 answer
258 views

Hows does "Glenn Research Center's sapphire refractive secondary concentrator" work?

Clicking through NASA.spinoff.gov I came to the page for spinnoff 2001 Glenn Research Center and found this: Glenn Research Center's sapphire refractive secondary concentrator will be used with ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
7 votes
0 answers
473 views

Were solar concentrators on HS-702 just a stop-gap measure until triple-junction PV cells were available?

According to Gunter's Space Page discussion of early versions of the Hughes HS-702 Bus: The first version of the 702 used solar arrays with concentrators. These concentrators tended to early fogging, ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
2 votes
1 answer
221 views

Why did Deep Space 1 use solar concentrators?

@Hobbes' answer mentions that Deep Space 1 used special refractive solar concentrators attached to photovoltaic cells. According to SCARLET: The innovative array uses 720 lenses to focus sunlight ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
3 votes
0 answers
57 views

Using a solar sail to concentrate sunlight at large distances

Space probes which travel to the outer planets usually use RTGs to provide power as photovoltaic cells are impractical at those distances from the Sun. Solar sail could be used to first propel the ...
JohnEye's user avatar
  • 1,336