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Questions tagged [solar-power]

Questions on obtaining electrical energy from the light of the Sun through either direct photovoltaic conversion or thermal conversion.

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Solar Reflective Plasma Drive

I understand that solar sails have just recently been progressing to be of use. Could the solar sails be positioned to create a hyperbolic mirror to super heat a substance to produce propulsion along ...
Justintimeforfun's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
92 views

Who is manufacturing the solar panels for the Inmarsat Elera satellites?

We would like to estimate whether extreme geomagnetic storms would cause any trouble to the solar panels of Elera satellites.
Kirsti Kauristie's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
325 views

What's wrong with solar power on China's Tiangong space station?

There was recently an article on Golem.de which claimed, that the area of the solar panels in the picture are larger than half of a football field. Which is of course an ill defined unit of area (for ...
Arsenal's user avatar
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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
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4 votes
1 answer
213 views

Solar Turbines on the moon

Related to other questions about power generation on the moon. URL's will be added shortly... Given that force is experienced by objects hit by sunlight, such as a solar sail, would a turbine of some ...
AnarchoEngineer's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
62 views

EPS sizing for lunar mission

As part of a university project, I am working on EPS sizing for a mission to the lunar environment. I have sized the SA and batteries, chosen the components and the PDCU; however, having never been in ...
andrescpa's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
509 views

Is it possible to open and close ROSAs several times?

During the preliminary phase of designing a REUSABLE lander for the lunar surface from the gateway, the need to necessarily use deployable SAs came up. In addition, because of the descending and ...
alespacerfed's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
149 views

Would Li-Ion batteries for a lunar base energy storage system be transported to the base charged or uncharged?

I'm investigating lunar base power systems and energy storage systems (ESS). One option is photovoltaics (PV) and Li-Ion batteries. A large mass of batteries would be required to power the base during ...
nwsteg's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
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Could a “solar gravitational synchrotron ” use solar thermal rockets to "powerslide" spacecraft out of the solar system?

Could a “solar gravitational synchrotron ” use solar thermal steam rockets to launch spacecraft out of the solar system? Solar thermal steam rockets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steam_rocket have ...
Woody's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
392 views

At some point far from the Sun does the output of solar panels start dropping much faster than inverse square? If so, how fast?

I recall reading somewhere that solar power - already marginal at Jupiter - will cease to produce any power whatsoever at distances much further out than Saturn. Unfortunately I can not now find the ...
Infinite_Maelstrom's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
176 views

What could spacecraft do with much more available power? Are spacecraft power limited?

I'm curious about how spacecraft would benefit having much more power for the same total mass. Solar panels are getting lighter, but would the extra power they could generate bring benefits to space ...
James Craft's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

How can we source potassium fluoride outside of Earth?

Potassium fluoride is the best known terrestrial option to purify the various materials used for the manufacturing of photovoltaic panels. Many of these materials can be found in regolith. The process ...
Ismael Ghalimi's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
249 views

Could a Stirling engine be used to produce more electricity in space?

A Stirling engine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine) is an engine which uses temperature differences to turn. In space it is hard to conduct heat so very often the sunny side of an object ...
The Rocket fan's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
165 views

What if Perseverance had experienced a fault after dropping Ingenuity?

When Ingenuity was released on the Martian surface in April 2021, Perseverance had to drive away to let the helicopter recharge its batteries with its solar panel. Was there a concern that the rover ...
olamarre's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
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Mars Insight probe solar panels - could or are they being used to collect some types of surface illumination data?

A 31 March 2022 news item, Mars more volcanically active than we thought, marsquakes hidden in NASA Insight data suggest, states that in relation to measuring of seismic data, A major source of noise ...
Fred's user avatar
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1 answer
180 views

Why do satellite solar arrays misalign from each other?

Searching for an answer to the title's question, I came across a post (How accurately can solar panels be continuously oriented toward the sun on a typical satellite?), in which someone said that &...
Gustavo Rangel's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
2k views

Largest solar panel (by area) deployed in space? Largest below/at/above GEO?

NASA news item NASA’s Psyche Gets Huge Solar Arrays for Trip to Metal-Rich Asteroid At 800 square feet (75 square meters), the five-panel, cross-shaped solar arrays are the largest ever installed at ...
uhoh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the average solar irradiation in low earth orbit?

I am trying to figure out how much power I can expect for a CubeSat in Low Earth Orbit. Is there some dataset or constant that describes the average rate of solar irradiation (per unit of area) in LEO?...
b-ry-jr's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
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Which Low-Earth Orbits Spend the Least Time With Access to Sunlight?

Regarding the (maybe completely absurd) possibility of powering a satellite via a ground-based laser, and perhaps (theoretically) also using that same laser to destroy any incoming projectiles or ...
Joseph S's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
329 views

Why is 90 sols a standard mission duration for robotic spacecraft on the surface of Mars?

Several robotic Mars surface missions have a planned mission duration of 90 sols. I would like to understand why this specific mission lifetime is commonly used by mission planners. Below is a non-...
Armadillo's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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Is it more expensive to send a chemical rocket from surface of Earth to an orbit or from this orbit to Mars?

I was trying to understand how cost-effective it would be to use an ion engine to power a mission. But since these propulsion systems cannot be used to leave Earth's gravitational field due to their ...
Ryan's user avatar
  • 459
8 votes
2 answers
151 views

Offset of the DART roll out solar arrays [duplicate]

Looking at images of the DART space craft with the solar cells fully extended, the solar cells on each side of the craft are offset from one another, instead of being inline, as the picture below ...
Fred's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
365 views

Nuclear or Solar power for satellites?

For satellites do they use solar or nuclear for the main power source? I do know that they have both but I do not know which is primary. for an example: Galileo, does it use solar or nuclear?
Jackson's user avatar
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1 answer
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Long lived solar powered rovers without radioisotope heater units (like Zhurong), for use beyond Mars

The Yutu rovers use RHUs to stay warm and survive the two week long lunar nights, every other rover uses nuclear material as well (except Sojourner), but the Zhurong rover uses a novel storage-heating ...
we'll see's user avatar
  • 477
2 votes
1 answer
135 views

Do reversible proton-exchange membrane hydrolizer/fuel cells exist? Have they been incorporated into a “Hydrogen Battery”?

Solar power on the Moon suffers from the month-long Lunar rotation which necessitates enough energy storage to last through the 2 week Lunar night. An alternative to battery storage would be a closed-...
Woody's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
257 views

Thermal batteries rather than battery-powered heaters for small craft on Mars; how much mass would it add, how much would it replace?

As an example, the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars charges its batteries each sunny day (which is every day except when it isn't) and discharges them substantially each cold night (which is all of them) ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
16 votes
4 answers
3k views

If we pick any point on the moon (except possibly the poles), is the sun visible for 13.66 days, and then not visible for 13.66 days?

The moon is tidally locked to the earth. The moon's orbital period is 27.32 days. Does that mean that if we pick any point on the moon (except possibly the poles), the sun should be visible for 13....
user4574's user avatar
  • 585
0 votes
0 answers
38 views

When was the last single-junction single crystal silicon solar cell launched into space?

I'm pretty sure the ISS's all-silicon solar cells are polycrystalline but I've just asked Are the original ISS solar panels single or polycrystalline silicon? What about the new ROSA roll-out arrays? ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
3 votes
1 answer
152 views

Are the original ISS solar panels single or polycrystalline silicon? What about the new ROSA roll-out arrays?

Most silicon photovoltaic arrays on Earth are silicon (no layers of III-V material for added efficiency) and they are grown as polycrystalline silicon rather than sliced from single crystal silicon ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes
1 answer
252 views

Ultrasonic vibrations to clean solar cells?

Could ultrasonic vibrations propagated into the solar cells be used to dislodge dust in environments like the surface of Mars or the moon? Obviously the waves would need to be induced in the substrate ...
Alonda's user avatar
  • 491
5 votes
0 answers
128 views

When docked, do Dragon solar panels contribute to ISS mains power?

What it says on the tin. Does a docked Dragon trunk section contribute to the ISS's batteries? I'm aware it would probably be minimal though due to orientation and occlusion of the panels, and when ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
198 views

Where all is ROSA (roll-out solar array) planned to be used?

A comment below Why are DART's solar panels aligned like this? says: Maybe could have something to do with how much space they take up with rolled all the way in? This is also the first use of ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
1 answer
263 views

Why are DART's solar panels aligned like this?

I've never noticed this before, but the two solar arrays of NASA and APL's DART spacecraft are at different "levels". In this image, the solar panel on the left extends out from the "...
dez's user avatar
  • 386
2 votes
1 answer
139 views

Articulable/tilt-able solar panels planned for, or already tried on Mars or the Moon to get rid of deadly dust accumulation on solar panels?

From Forbes.com's Mars Opportunity And Spirit Rovers Could Have Lived Practically Forever With One Tiny Change: One option would be to install some mechanism such as wiper blades to remove any ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes
0 answers
122 views

How efficient was Telstar's solar cell configuration, compared to a flat panel?

Telstar was a series of communication satellites first launched in 1962. The body of the satellite is roughly spherical, with much of the outer surface covered in solar cells. This gives the ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 48k
8 votes
1 answer
463 views

What was the first Soviet spacecraft that could recharge its battery it each orbit? Where were the photovoltaic cells made?

Sputnik 1 (/ˈspʌtnɪk, ˈspʊtnɪk/; "Satellite-1", or "PS-1", Простейший Спутник-1 or Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1, "Elementary Satellite 1") was the first artificial Earth ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
1 answer
287 views

When is the last time that a battery-powered spacecraft was launched without an RTG or solar-electric power?

Except for special sun-synchronous, Earth orbit eventually leads to eclipses, so spacecraft in Earth orbit generally have solar panels with electrical energy "buffered" by batteries. And ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
5 votes
0 answers
188 views

Does the ISS currently use "night glider mode" as part of its solar array positioning plan?

I've seen several references on the site to a mode of ISS solar array position management called "night glider" where the solar arrays are turned to minimize drag when the ISS is on the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
51 views

Are there now established classes of solar-electric powered spacecraft?

The NASA.gov press release NASA Awards Contract to Launch Initial Elements for Lunar Outpost says: NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

How to move in space with just solar panels or without them?

What are the technologies known to humankind, to do propulsion in space, with a spacecraft having solar panels, when: It is under ample solar flux? It is interstellar under negligible solar flux? ...
6nagi9's user avatar
  • 393
4 votes
1 answer
677 views

What are the Basics of CubeSat Power Supplies and Systems?

I am going to go ahead and apologize for my ignorance surrounding this topic, as my background is Aerodynamics, and not Electrical Engineering. From what I understand, CubeSats typically generate ...
Spaceman87's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
50 views

Can it be estimated when a first settlement near the equator would become more economical than one at the midlatitudes of Mars?

Choosing the right place on Mars for a settlement would be of course an important decision because once it's there it would take much time and money to move on to another, better location. Because the ...
Cornelis's user avatar
  • 7,535
2 votes
0 answers
60 views

How often have dust devils saved a Martian lander or rover?

This answer to How are the Mars Rovers maintained? reminds us that ...much to the surprise of the early Mars scientists and rover teams, Mars takes care of the dust problem for us! Mars' typical ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
7 votes
0 answers
78 views

How much did satellites and space exploration enable the development of solar panels?

After the demonstration of silicon solar panels in 1954, Bell Labs struggled to find demand for the solar panels as they were too expensive for most mainstream applications. However, satellites needed ...
Barry Jenakuns's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
95 views

What would be the influence of nearby planets on a Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm?

Considering orbital mechanics, I would like to ask what would be the effect of nearby planets such as the Earth or Jupiter on a Dyson sphere. A Dyson sphere is not realistic because of the tremendous ...
Paul Rougieux's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
198 views

For the three spacecraft now on their way to Mars plus ExoMars, how many have any solar power capability during transit?

Right now EMM Hope, Tiangwen-1 and Mars2020 are on their way to Mars and ExoMars will go next time. For these four spacecraft how many of them have any provisions to use solar power via photovoltaic ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
13 votes
3 answers
3k views

Mars versus the poles of Mercury WRT colonization

From MESSENGER Finds New Evidence for Water Ice at Mercury's Poles : Credits: NASA/John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/National Astronomy and ...
Cornelis's user avatar
  • 7,535
4 votes
1 answer
178 views

Do a significant proportion of cubesats (or any at all) have articulated solar panels/sails which can be pointed at the Sun?

It appears that for early cubesats the solar panels were simply fixed flat to the sides of the spacecraft, and even deployable panels were not part of early cubesat designs. Have a significant number ...
tdMJN6B2JtUe's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
208 views

Most efficient method of storing energy with water on the moon?

I found a large cavern under my lunar homestead. It is several hundred feet (a couple hundred meters) deep and fairly large. There is a large ice deposit at the bottom. I am able to warm it to ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
92 views

How many discharge cycles do ISS and other LEO satellites withstand? What specific things are done to make this possible?

Batteries in our laptops and phones eventually wear out after thousands or tens of thousands of discharge cycles over the lifetime of the product, maybe a cycle ever few days. The ISS and other ...
uhoh's user avatar
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