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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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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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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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
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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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263 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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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
216 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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725 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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481 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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339 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. ...
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563 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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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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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
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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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. ...
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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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572 views

Could a solar thermopile be enough to power a small satellite?

It seems that a nuclear thermoelectric generator was used to power spacecrafts for some exploration missions. Can a thermopile that harvest the light/shade temperature difference on Earth's orbit be ...
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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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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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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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Does Juno use MPPT?

MPPT aka Maximum Power Point Tracking is an active mechanism to collect maximum power a PV cell may deliver. This is typically achieved by varying the resistive load connected to a cell. Juno will ...
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1answer
746 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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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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Peltier cell as solar cell in space

There's a related question: In space can the difference in temperature between the inside and outside, provide useful energy? The problem with that one is that it relies on the concept of "hot inside"...
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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 ...