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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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The Orbital Mass Accelerator Engine Theory

Can 2 satellites equal in weight traveling on the same orbital path in the opposite directions intersect and propel each other to gain altitude in orbit? Can orbital perturbation be negated during ...
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1answer
920 views

How can the Parker Solar Probe survive passing within 4 million miles of the sun's surface?

There is a lot of information on the internet about NASA's Parker Solar Probe mission, including several multi-hundred page scientific reviews and in-depth studies - here's one. But could someone take ...
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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 ...
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4answers
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Solar panels on Mars?

I was wondering if a base on Mars could be powered by solar energy alone? Since Mars is further away from the Sun wouldn't that mean lower efficiency thus making solar not scalable? Let's assume a ...
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2answers
218 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 "...
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1answer
357 views

How will GOES-R simultaneously point some instruments down at Earth and others sunward?

GOES-R is scheduled to launch soon and put in geostationary orbit over North America for high bandwidth continuous monitoring of Earth, with only 120 minutes per year interruptions caused by ...
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1answer
798 views

What are the sources of light at L2? How will the James Webb telescope be powered?

The James Webb space telescope will be positioned very close to L2. According to JPL, Webb will have a large solar-array to power itself. I don't understand how this works, since L2 is positioned "...
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321 views

Can a solar sail be added to an ion engine and work better?

Has there been a concept vehicle that uses both solar sails and ion engines? Does the added mass of each system increase or reduce the spacecrafts total delta V capabilities? Inspired by S.F. As S.F....
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2answers
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How will the ExoMARS Rover keep it's solar panels dust-free and collecting maximum power?

update: Current events makes this question even more poignant sols 5183 to 5189, Aug. 23, 2018 - Aug. 29, 2018: Team Continues to Listen for Opportunity Curiosity selfie has been released just a few ...
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1answer
2k 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. ...
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1answer
192 views

Can orbital maneuvers be performed by a solar sail to correct eccentricity?

This unique model would spend very little time in Earth's shadow and eccentricity correction is performed on every pass. Can the angle of the hard flat solar sail or one big solar vane maintain an ...
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4answers
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Why wasn't an RTG used on the Juno spacecraft?

When I first heard about the Juno spacecraft, I was surprised that it would be using solar panels to generate power throughout the mission. Why wasn't a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) ...
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Why does Curiosity use an RTG rather than solar (as Spirit and Opportunity do) for power?

Why did Curiosity choose to go with nuclear power? While solar panels have issues with Martian dust, this was a known factor before the 2004 Spirit and Opportunity mission. Why then did the 2004 ...
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1answer
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Lightest possible solar array?

I'd like to know what is the lightest possible solar array per unit power with current or near future technology. The arrays I have been able to find: Vanguard Space THINS 400-500 W/kg (2014; thin ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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1answer
205 views

How are the orientations of the ISS' eight independent solar arrays optimized?

I've noticed that in various photos and videos the orientation of the ISS' eight independent solar arrays are often moving, and usually some are different than others. 0th-order naive thinking would ...
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2answers
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Do solar panels on satellites gather dust and need cleaning?

As a follow-up to Does cosmic dust pose a problem for long-term satellites, telescopes and probes?, assuming satellite's long duration stay in Earth's orbit – let's for the sake of argument assume a ...
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1answer
280 views

Could dusters be installed on solar panels on a mars lander? [duplicate]

I see on the interwebs that the lander Insight is about to land on Mars and the NASA PR describes the solar panels as producing 600-700W now and 200-300W when covered in dust. Is there any reason why ...
8
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1answer
628 views

How much more power does a PV cell generate in Venerean orbit?

Spacecraft in terrestrial Solar System typically use PV cells to power their instruments. As the referenced Wikipedia article writes, Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of generating electrical power ...
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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0answers
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Low energy cements for Mars and Callisto. Waterless cement for the Moon. Any good candidates?

In the non-polar regions of the Moon and Mercury there is a shortage of volatiles, including hydrogen and nitrogen, so they might be regaded as too valuable to be "wasted" to prepare concrete. ...
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1answer
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Why are these multi-junction solar cells 40% efficient on earth but 30% in space?

This video about Spectrolab's spacecraft power systems mentions Juno several times and it looks like the Juno panels are shown at several points in the video. Multi-junction cells are discussed, they ...
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How fast is the onset of periodic eclipse for a spacecraft in LEO?

A spacecraft in low inclination LEO will undergo regular eclipsing of the Sun and this is a big issue for power management. How fast is the light-to-dark transition, say 90% to 10% sunlight intensity ...
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1answer
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Will the Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft's solar panels be articulated during each orbit?

The NYTimes article Review: ‘Bill Nye: Science Guy,’ a Portrait of a Fighter for Facts includes a link to the film's trailer on YouTube and a photo of Bill Nye with a model of a 3U cubesat attached to ...
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1answer
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How are solar panels protected from the Sun?

In 2003, JAXA sent a probe, Hayabusa, to an asteroid named Itokawa. On the way to the asteroid, there was a large solar flare which damaged the probe's solar cells. I've been searching through the ...
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Why didn't Gemini, Apollo or STS use solar panels?

Short-duration flights (Vostok, Voskhod, Mercury) use several-kWh batteries. Space stations use photovoltaic cells for their high power-to-weight ratio. The longest mission duration accomplished with ...
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1answer
297 views

How long could Solar Impulse fly in the Venerean atmosphere?

Extremes of temperature, and pressure serve to effectively constrict the life-span of a PV cell on the Venerean surface. Despite the cloud cover, the Venus' proximity to Sol makes for upto 1km ...
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1answer
274 views

Why does DSCOVR appear to be missing solar cells?

In recent photos of DSCOVR I've noticed it appears to be missing eight solar cells in its array. In photos from the original "unboxing" from storage it appears to have all its cells. Why is this?
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Would a lower LEO ISS orbit really have a shorter eclipse duration than a higher one?

This comment says Lower orbit also mean shorter ones; for observations (one of the ISS missions) it is an advantage. It also have shorter night times (ie smaller batteries).. and the likely ...
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1answer
120 views

Solar cell heating vs power draw

In a few questions ( Does the ISS need more heating or more cooling?, Why did Salyut 7 freeze over, while ISS requires massive cooling system? ) it is implied that the station inside heat budget is ...
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1answer
1k views

What is the average intensity of sunlight on the Venerean surface?

A follow-up to How much more power does a PV cell generate in Venerean orbit? NASA writes to say about Venera 8 ... measured the light level as being suitable for surface photography, finding it ...
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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 ...
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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) ...
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1answer
440 views

What is the difference in solar panel efficiency between Solar Impulse & ISS?

Solar Impulse is on target to circle the world. Presumably Solar Impulse has the most current and efficient solar cells available, while those on the ISS range between 5 and 10 years old. How do the ...
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1answer
333 views

Are the ISS US Segment solar arrays double-sided?

Some answers on this site claim that the ISS US Segment solar arrays are double-sided (i.e. cells on both sides of the blanket). I tend to doubt this, but a search of my references did not turn up ...
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Will space-based energy beamed to earth increase heat on earth?

A Japanese paper on beaming energy from solar installation on the moon to earth via laser and microwave recently made the rounds in the media. Would this, or any space-based energy system cause a net ...
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2answers
353 views

When there is more power than needed, are satellite photovoltaics shunted or open circuit?

I saw the word "shunts" in this answer about DSCOVR's upgraded photovoltaic arrays when it was unmothballed and readied for space. Reading it, I get the idea that shunts are used to dissipate the ...
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2answers
371 views

MetOp-A; Why this unusual solar panel shape and deployment method?

This solar panel is closer to square than most solar panels I've seen, which tend to be very long - length/width ratio perhaps 4 to 6. This looks like only 1.5, and it seems to be located at the end ...
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4answers
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Probes on a Solar System Escape Trajectory

Not one probe that has or will leave the Solar System (Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, and New Horizons) has a Solar Power System. This leads to the question, is there a reason behind ...
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1answer
301 views

How are the silicon PV cells constructed in the ISS's solar panels? Are they as flexible as they appear here?

My understanding is that the ISS's solar panels are silicon and double sided to maximize bang-for-the-pound (average power per kilogram transported to orbit). See Are the ISS US Segment solar arrays ...
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2answers
289 views

Solar Flux on Mars Surface

Considering that the Solar Flux on top of Mars' atmosphere is 590 W/m2 (following the 1/r^2 relation for sunlight), how much of this incident light actually arrives to Mars. In other words, what is ...
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1answer
379 views

ViaSat's 18 kW solar array - largest ever for a commercial telecom satellite?

Now that the protests at Kourou Space Center in French Guiana are over, Arianne has launched both EutelSat 172B and ViaSat-2 as 2017-029A. While EutelSat 172B has a ...
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1answer
102 views

Is photovoltaic efficiency defined and measured differently for space vs terrestrial applications?

Since the shape (as well as the integral) of the solar irradiance spectrum above the atmosphere is different than that below it, is the efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels defined and measured ...
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1answer
132 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 ...
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3answers
437 views

Can a satellite utilize gravity gradient stabilization, solar power, electrodynamic tethering and dynamic quadrupole momentum at once?

Have any analysis been done using 2 or more devises above to function as a satellite where 1 alone would not to maintain orbit without propellants? Will this system or one with a different ...
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1answer
62 views

How large would be the seasonal variation of eclipse duration for a spacecraft in LEO?

The question How long will a 500 km altitude satellite spend in Earth - shade per orbit has several answers, and there is some discussion of constraints related to maximum eclipse, due to some issues ...