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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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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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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 &...
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6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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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?...
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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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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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-...
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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 ...
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7 votes
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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2 votes
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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-...
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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) ...
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14 votes
3 answers
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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....
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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? ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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8 votes
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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 "...
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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 ...
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4 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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8 votes
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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 ...
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5 votes
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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 ...
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1 vote
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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 ...
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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? ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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7 votes
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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 ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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4 votes
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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Why don't rockets recharge in space using solar panels while orbiting similar to ISS for deeper space travel?

I was just curious why this isn't possible because it's clearly been considered based on the existence of them in the ISS for keeping the facility online. I'd appreciate some clarity on this. Thanks a ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Why is there no concerted effort to collect solar energy on a global scale?

edit and update: the assumption here is that necessary batteries for storing solar energy simply aren't available on a global scale (without intending to get into the veracity of such a statement).) ...
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Any commercial communication satellite in GEO Orbit that supports 25 KW Power?

As I understand, EchosTAR-11, built by Space systems Loral, was the first 20KW Commercial satellite. (Reference: Recent Successful satellite systems- Visions for future by D.K.Sachdev).
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4 votes
1 answer
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Does the proposed Voyager Station solar power arrangement make sense?

The Gateway Foundation has proposed a rotating space station with solar panels on the "hot side" (always facing the sun)/ This is to maximize power generation and minimize heating by keeping the body ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Mining Helium-3 on the moon and sending it to Earth?

It would be best to mine and process material on the moon to obtain helium-3, but my question is, what if we did an unmanned mission? A small robot 1 meter long, powered by solar energy, that takes ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Could Stirling Engines work on sunlight alone?

With the heated side facing the sun and the rest in its own shade, could two contra-rotating Vacuum Stirling Engines and flywheels, in tandem, accumulate torque, to power a reaction wheel? Can the ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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How many square meters of solar panel to power a MOXIE-like oxygen source per person?

If I wanted to live in a box on Mars to write my screenplay about living in a box on Mars, how many square meters of solar panels would I need to power a MOXIE-like CO2-to-O2 converter in order to ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How well does polymer filament survive space radiation?

I am reading Medium.com's 3D Printing Is Going to Space and Made In Space is doing something very cool. However, the point of failure in a system like this seems to be the polymer strut itself - how ...
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1 answer
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What is the benefit of rigid solar arrays over flexible ones?

I read somewhere that flexible arrays tend do waver when a satellite is rotated so it would make Earth observing satellites have 'fuzzy' pictures. But I also read that Hubble used a flexible array for ...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Do space solar panels use more of the solar spectrum?

Quite a bit of the EM spectrum is filtered out by the Earth's atmosphere, which means there's less incident solar energy per area on the ground that in space. There's more discussion of that topic ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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What is the calculation for the distance VIPER can travel without recharging its batteries?

VIPER, the lunar rover NASA has developed to search for water in the permanently shadowed regions near the south pole of our Moon, will be equipped with (rechargeable) batteries to be able to drive, ...
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3 votes
4 answers
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What spacecraft relied on solar electrical power farthest from the Sun?

Question: What spacecraft relied on solar electrical power farthest from the Sun? If you like you can break it down by use case; spacecraft that used it for solar-electric propulsion (and weren't ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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