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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20
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2answers
3k views

Curiosity is still dirty! How will the ExoMARS Rover keep its solar panels dust-free and collecting sufficient 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 ...
9
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1answer
834 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 ...
10
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1answer
2k 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 "...
6
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2answers
788 views

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 ...
21
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3answers
4k 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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6answers
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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 ...
1
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1answer
603 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 ...
11
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1answer
1k 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 ...
4
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2answers
361 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 "...
6
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4answers
7k views

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 ...
6
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4answers
861 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....
18
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2answers
4k views

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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0answers
316 views

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 fogging, ...
6
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1answer
165 views

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 ...
6
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2answers
800 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 ...
5
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2answers
948 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 ...
3
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1answer
172 views

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 ...
54
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4answers
7k 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) ...
12
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2answers
3k 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 ...
18
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2answers
3k 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 ...
11
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1answer
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 ...
10
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2answers
2k views

How long is a day on the Moon?

I am moving to live on the Moon, I have a solar panel that only makes power when the sun shines on it. I will need to charge batteries to give me power during the lunar night. But I can't figure out ...
8
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1answer
171 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 ...
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2answers
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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) ...
8
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1answer
463 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 ...
5
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1answer
722 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 ...
5
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1answer
197 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
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1answer
716 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 ...
3
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1answer
424 views

Why not a landing platform with solar cells on the Mars 2020 rover for the helicopter scout?

In May 2018 the Mars Helicopter Scout (MHS) was approved to fly on the Mars 2020 mission. Author: NASA/JPL-Caltec. It's a solar powered helicopter drone with a mass of 1.8 kg and a coaxial rotor ...
2
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1answer
281 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 ...
2
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1answer
115 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 ...
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4answers
712 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 ...
24
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3answers
5k 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 ...
8
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3answers
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-...
6
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1answer
187 views

Hows does "Glenn Research Center's sapphire refractive secondary concentrator" work?

Clicking through NASA.spinoff.gov I came to the page for spinnoff 2001 Glenn Research Center and found this: Glenn Research Center's sapphire refractive secondary concentrator will be used with ...
22
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1answer
2k views

Function of the separated, individual solar cells on Telstar 1 and 2? Why were they "special"?

The image below shows a part of a backup satellite for Telstar 1 and 2. In addition to the many small and highly segmented solar panels, there are what look like individual elements of the same kind ...
14
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2answers
2k views

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 ...
8
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1answer
420 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 ...
7
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0answers
231 views

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. ...
6
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1answer
785 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 ...
2
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1answer
151 views

Why did Deep Space 1 use solar concentrators?

@Hobbes' answer mentions that Deep Space 1 used special refractive solar concentrators attached to photovoltaic cells. According to SCARLET: The innovative array uses 720 lenses to focus sunlight ...
2
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1answer
274 views

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 ...
8
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1answer
856 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 ...
7
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3answers
382 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 ...
5
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1answer
310 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 ...
4
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1answer
149 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 ...
3
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2answers
654 views

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 ...
3
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0answers
128 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 ...
2
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1answer
381 views

Why do the solar panels on the seven Sentinel configurations look so completely different from each other?

I understant that these six different Earth-observing satellite platforms measure and image Earth data differenty, but there is just such a wide variety of different ways to build solar panels and ...
2
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1answer
39 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 ...