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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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 "...
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763 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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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278 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, ...
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767 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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
347 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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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
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What effects does atmosphere have on solar panels?

For the purpose of this question I do not want to focus simply on the fact that there will be less "night time" for the panels while in orbit/outside the atmosphere of a planet. What I'd like to ...
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1answer
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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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1answer
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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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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 ...