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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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1answer
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Solar Panel folding

If a spacecraft is going to use solar power as its source of electricity (either for propulsion or just components or both) and it's also going to travel far out into the solar system, to quite high ...
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4answers
520 views

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
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 ...
4
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1answer
870 views

What limits thrust-to-weight ratio of ion thusters?

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-...
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2answers
1k views

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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2answers
442 views

What would keep Dyson Swarm reflectors in place?

I've been reading a bit about the concept of a Dyson Swarm and how one of the more plausible routes would be to disassemble Mercury to construct ~1km hematite mirrors as the swarm reflectors. The ...
3
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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
494 views

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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2answers
796 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 ...
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2answers
243 views

Back to oribt from Mars - how many km^2 yr of solar power to make enough propellant?

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 ...
5
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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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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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678 views

Could we construct a solar driven rocket?

When the first solar driven aeroplane now has made a round trip of the globe, could we build a space craft driven by sunlight that could reach orbit?
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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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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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2answers
128 views

Has the choice of photovoltaic junction types for newer spacecraft converged on one, optimal solution?

On earth, the photovoltaic cell junction for mass production tends to be just silicon, although there is a variety of material types - single crystal vs multicrystal or polycrystal, or even amorphous. ...
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1answer
120 views

Jupiter's impact on Juno's solar panels

Juno has large solar panels on it. I was curious about their effectiveness when Juno is closest to Jupiter. Does Jupiter have a significant impact on the solar panels? Can the solar panels ...
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2answers
191 views

Why do Juno's solar panels narrow toward the core?

I'm no engineer, but if I was making a vessel with extending sails, solar panels, mast, antennae, etc. I would make them widest close to the core. But Juno's solar panels narrow toward the core as ...
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4answers
6k views

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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2answers
569 views

Solar cells in series

Most of space-based hardware operates on solar panels composed of lots of photovoltaic cells connected in short series that produce around 28V; lots of these are connected in parallel to produce ...
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2answers
140 views

Could Solar Cells provide Neutron shielding?

In any (deep) spacecraft, radiation shielding is paramount. Neutrons and gamma rays can only be stopped by putting mass (or distance) between source and target. It seems that one should put more ...
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0answers
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Is there an upper limit for thrust generation by ion propulsion? [duplicate]

I was just reading an article about how the main factor preventing ion propulsion from being more effective is power generated from solar arrays. Solar arrays typically only generate 1-5 kW of power, ...
5
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1answer
623 views

Why are the ISS' Sequential Shunt Units not on the inside?

Recently Tim Peake and Tim Kopra carried out an EVA to replace a failed Sequential Shunt Unit, some form of electrical regulator for the solar panels, on the outside of the ISS. Why aren't these ...
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2answers
521 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 ...
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1answer
1k views

Why do satellites never run out of power?

Why do the satellites never run out of power do they have batteries that are charged by sunlight everyday? Also they transmit so much information across the globe.
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1answer
287 views

Spatial solar panels area density through history [closed]

When working on a project, it is often useful to predict what will happen in the future, 5 or 10 years from now. Past data is needed in order to extrapolate them and make accurate predictions. How can ...
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1answer
1k views

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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3answers
963 views

Optimal trajectory for solar electric propulsion?

Consider using solar electric propulsion for, e.g. Earth-Mars trip, or for asteroid retrieval mission. Is there a benefit to first entering an eccentric orbit so that part of the time is spent ...
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1answer
219 views

What are the challenges in building a supercritical CO2 gas turbine power plant for a Mars habitat of 6 astronauts?

There is abundant $\require{mhchem}\ce{CO2}$ in martian atmosphere, so we could use that in a modified gas turbine. Can this, combined with PV cells (a hybrid power source), be an efficient energy ...
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1answer
306 views

Are there solar panels available today that would last through various lunar days?

I have been working on a project to build a realistic digital model of a Moon base. I'd assumed that during the initial phase of the base, the power source would be photovoltaic panels. But now that I ...
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1answer
197 views

Solutions to Ongoing Problems on the Solar Panel rotary joints

What are the causes of the damaged SARJ on the ISS? This occurred back in 2007, and endangers the lives of astronauts. Also, what are the solutions to this problem. Does anyone know what types of ...
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2answers
579 views

Could a space based solar power system be used as a weapon?

Space based solar power systems that beam power back to terrestrial receivers have been discussed for decades. However, I've always had a nagging concern that such a system, once built, could be ...
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7answers
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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Why aren't solar collectors in space solar power concepts placed closer to the sun?

I've been thinking about space solar power for quite some time, as to how it could be more profitable than ground based solar power. From all the concepts that I have seen the main problem I always ...
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1answer
225 views

Is utilizing the high temperature for chemical reactions on Venus a feasible way of generating electricity?

I assume utilizing habitats floating high in the Venus atmosphere as described by Geoffrey Landis. So weight, size etc is a constraint, and we will not be operating at the surface with the crushing ...
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1answer
955 views

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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1answer
171 views

Were the ISS Solar Arrays manufactured as a set?

The solar arrays used on the ISS were launched in 4 different launches. Starting in 2000 for the first array, used on the Z-0 truss, to 2007, 2008, and 2009 for the final three. Are all 4 of them ...
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1answer
3k 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 ...
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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 ...
3
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1answer
319 views

Is the waste heat (sink) system dependent on whether the energy source is nuclear or solar?

A power plant in space causes waste heat which has to be removed from the plant. The need for large heat sinks, and their mass, kind of bogs down some of the advantages of big nuclear power in space. ...
8
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1answer
461 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 (...
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2answers
297 views

What are low-mass ways of supplying power for a 4.5kW ion thruster?

I'm in the process of designing a spacecraft for a project, and I'm at the stage of choosing the propulsion system. I'm going to use a Boeing 702 ion thruster (requiring 4.5kW) for propulsion, to ...
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3answers
3k views

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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2answers
1k views

Solar flux on (not at) Earth

I'm trying to find out if there are reliable values for the solar flux received on Earth. I realise this will change with location, time of day, season, weather etc. but I'm surprised that I can find ...
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2answers
302 views

What is a reasonable cost estimate for space solar power (SSP)? [closed]

What is a reasonable cost estimate for the following: A single space solar power station beaming power to earth via laser or maser and one associated receiving station? The following complex: A moon ...
9
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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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2answers
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Why aren't landers designed to point their solar panels and radio antennas to Sun and Earth?

Opportunity, the rover on Mars, is on its tenth year. Wow! But its solar panels are fixed flat on top of it. As are those of all interplanetary landers which I know of. Why aren't they designed to ...
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3answers
2k views

How will Dragon v2's solar panels be protected during launch on top of Falcon 9?

When Elon Musk unveiled Dragon v2 last year, we got our first truly good look at what SpaceX's crew vehicle is like. Apart from the ability to propulsively land, one of the big changes was the lack of ...
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1answer
180 views

Would it be practical to use a rover with a cable to a power and communication station?

Geology Dr. Paul Spudis (who was on the Clementine Lunar orbiter mission) has an interesting step-by-step proposal for exploration of potentially extractable water ice at the Lunar poles. It includes ...
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2answers
180 views

Is it feasible for a future Rosetta type mission to use wireless transfer of power to Philae?

While listening to the latest updates it seems like there is a limited 60 hour battery capacity left for Philae. There seems to be some information on the web on wireless power transfer using lasers. ...