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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9 votes
6 answers
3k views

How could a satellite follow Earth around the Sun while staying outside of Earth's orbit?

I'm wondering if its possible for a satellite to follow Earth around the Sun while staying outside of its orbit. I wondering for the sake of space based solar infrastructure or just something ...
8 votes
1 answer
536 views

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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
151 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 ...
7 votes
2 answers
592 views

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 ...
10 votes
2 answers
717 views

How quickly do the Van Allen radiation belts degrade solar panels?

I heard the other day that to take cargo from Earth to a Lagrange point or the Moon using solar electric propulsion would be a problem because the Van Allen radiation belts would degrade the solar ...
3 votes
1 answer
128 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 ...
24 votes
3 answers
5k views

Brushing clean a Mars lander's solar panels

A comment by SF. regarding the InSight Mars lander caught my attention: I really, really wonder why they didn't just include a small compartment with a duster brush grippable by the robotic arm. ...
2 votes
2 answers
66 views

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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
149 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 &...
6 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
173 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 "...
4 votes
1 answer
119 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?...
4 votes
1 answer
156 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-...
1 vote
0 answers
49 views

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 ...
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

What limits thrust-to-weight ratio of ion thusters? (beside power density of energy source)

If we consider nuclear-rocket technology not feasible (whether due to technological or political limitations), the second best options for future transportation in solar system are perhaps solar-...
4 votes
1 answer
206 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) ...
7 votes
2 answers
110 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
194 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?
4 votes
1 answer
216 views

Did Juno do a plane change circa October 2019? If so, by how much?

There are several reports in the news that the Juno spacecraft executed a very long propulsive maneuver so that it wouldn't pass through Jupiter's shadow. Apparently it would be in dark so long that ...
2 votes
1 answer
102 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-...
3 votes
1 answer
92 views

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 ...
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 ...
14 votes
3 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....
7 votes
3 answers
448 views

How to size Solar Array for Mars Surface

Good morning everyone, I am working on a project for my university where we need to perform a PrePhase A study for a Mars Infrastructure for Propellant production as a means of support for future ...
6 votes
1 answer
331 views

Could the International Space Station be fitted with solar sails?

How much solar sail and vane surface area would be needed to replace the boosts needed to keep the ISS in orbit? Could this be done at a higher orbit minimizing atmospheric drag? What is the closest ...
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

Making propellants on Mars: Why not just LH2/LOX instead of methane?

In this cool video of a presentation about SpaceX's GPU-based computational fluid dynamics, there is a slide early on about making rocket fuel on Mars - specifically using water from the ground and ...
0 votes
0 answers
32 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? ...
2 votes
1 answer
66 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 ...
7 votes
3 answers
397 views

Fast spinning solar cells to clear Martian dust possible?

I've seen a fast spinning glass wheel used in front of a camera to clear away water, dust or ice. Could Solar panels be made circular and spin to clear dust off of them in the same way may? As ...
4 votes
2 answers
833 views

Why can't the VIPER lunar rover recharge its 100-day power source using its solar panels?

update 1: NASA wants ideas for keeping Moon missions powered in the dark update 2: NASA’s Artemis Rover to Land Near Nobile Region of Moon’s South Pole which is informative here Source NASA ...
5 votes
0 answers
105 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 ...
4 votes
0 answers
96 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 ...
13 votes
4 answers
1k views

Manufacturing solar cells on the Moon

How practical is it to manufacture solar cells on the Moon? I understand there is a lot of silica there, and in theory if we could robotically make and deploy solar cells on the Moon, then we would (...
7 votes
1 answer
368 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
134 views

Has anyone reported looking for bandgap photoemission from III-V solar panels on spacecraft? Has any success ever been reported?

I have asked a related question in Physics SE: Do III-V based photovoltaics “glow” (photo-luminesce) when illuminated but not loaded? and the answer (as expected, as it must be) is yes. Question: Have ...
11 votes
6 answers
3k views

Can a satellite work like a radiometer?

Like a Crookes Radiometer, could a satellite have a stiff vain to maneuver? With a white side to let light pass and the black side capture light radiation be enough provide radiation pressure to keep ...
11 votes
1 answer
7k views

Why does the ISS not use the most efficient solar panels available?

In this question, Geoffc's answer stated that the ISS solar arrays are about 14% efficient. Higher efficiency panels were available when these arrays were manufactured. Given the high cost per pound ...
3 votes
1 answer
161 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 ...
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

How does ROSA unroll? (Roll Out Solar Array)

The upcoming SpaceX launch with the apparently first re-use of a dragon capsule will bring with it the Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA). (See also: More science, reused Dragon capsule featured on CRS-11) ...
1 vote
0 answers
47 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 ...
5 votes
0 answers
131 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 ...
1 vote
4 answers
894 views

Will the Mars helicopter be able to remove the dust from solar panels?

Although I'm not that worried about Insight's solar panels that I didn't sleep well because of that, this question got me thinking! The Mars Helicopter Scout is a planned robotic helicopter that will ...
5 votes
1 answer
234 views

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 ...
3 votes
4 answers
266 views

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 ...
9 votes
9 answers
1k views

How could a fast powerful rover on Mars be powered electrically?

Background The rovers on Mars are slow and weak. If I am to believe what I read, MSL Curiosity only produces 1/6th of a horsepower electric effect, 125 watt. In order to perform tasks like deep ...
2 votes
1 answer
192 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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
212 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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
166 views

What is InSight's one-sol energy budget on a good day?

I am still worried about InSight's solar panels getting covered in dust: Why do InSight's solar panels have tall vertical ridges between segments - will these trap dust? Please help me to sleep ...
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? ...
1 vote
0 answers
46 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 ...