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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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 "...
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Do a significant proportion of cubesats (or any at all) have articulated solar panels/sails which can be pointed at the Sun?

It appears that for early cubesats the solar panels were simply fixed flat to the sides of the spacecraft, and even deployable panels were not part of early cubesat designs. Have a significant number ...
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How efficient was Telstar's solar cell configuration, compared to a flat panel?

Telstar was a series of communication satellites first launched in 1962. The body of the satellite is roughly spherical, with much of the outer surface covered in solar cells. This gives the ...
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Any commercial communication satellite in GEO Orbit that supports 25 KW Power?

As I understand, EchosTAR-11, built by Space systems Loral, was the first 20KW Commercial satellite. (Reference: Recent Successful satellite systems- Visions for future by D.K.Sachdev).
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Have inflatable solar arrays ever been used in practice?

Was trying to find some "experimental" solar panel designs, and came across a rather fascinating design idea, inflatable solar panels. I feel like something this compact would work stupendously for a ...
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Why can't solar panels work eternally for any space probe?

I was just thinking about this that as all probes have solar panels attached to them so why do they have to shut down at the last stage, So I googled and found that dust sticks to panels because of ...
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327 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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651 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 ...
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What is the benefit of rigid solar arrays over flexible ones?

I read somewhere that flexible arrays tend do waver when a satellite is rotated so it would make Earth observing satellites have 'fuzzy' pictures. But I also read that Hubble used a flexible array for ...
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423 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 ...
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234 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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Where all is ROSA (roll-out solar array) planned to be used?

A comment below Why are DART's solar panels aligned like this? says: Maybe could have something to do with how much space they take up with rolled all the way in? This is also the first use of ...
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What spacecraft relied on solar electrical power farthest from the Sun?

Question: What spacecraft relied on solar electrical power farthest from the Sun? If you like you can break it down by use case; spacecraft that used it for solar-electric propulsion (and weren't ...
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2k views

How much do solar cells for space cost? [closed]

There is a lot of discussion about refueling rockets in deep space. This is to be managed by electrolysis of water powered by solar cells. This requires a lot of energy so one needs a lot of solar ...
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168 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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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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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 ...
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122 views

Power generation from cosmic rays or particles?

A random thought occurred to me: Can we harness the energy from cosmic rays or particles or deadly radiation that's found (in space) just like we do for solar energy?
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Feasible to use lasers / concentrated light to power solar cells in our solar system?

I was watching a video on Youtube which criticized Elon Musk's idea to use solar power to power the space craft at long distances from the sun such as Saturn. That got me thinking whether it would be ...
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711 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
364 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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Ultrasonic vibrations to clean solar cells?

Could ultrasonic vibrations propagated into the solar cells be used to dislodge dust in environments like the surface of Mars or the moon? Obviously the waves would need to be induced in the substrate ...
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226 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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Does the ISS currently use "night glider mode" as part of its solar array positioning plan?

I've seen several references on the site to a mode of ISS solar array position management called "night glider" where the solar arrays are turned to minimize drag when the ISS is on the ...
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Can it be estimated when a first settlement near the equator would become more economical than one at the midlatitudes of Mars?

Choosing the right place on Mars for a settlement would be of course an important decision because once it's there it would take much time and money to move on to another, better location. Because the ...
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Using a solar sail to concentrate sunlight at large distances

Space probes which travel to the outer planets usually use RTGs to provide power as photovoltaic cells are impractical at those distances from the Sun. Solar sail could be used to first propel the ...
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Did Juno just do a plane change? If so, by how much?

There are several reports in the news that the Juno spacecraft executed a very long propulsive maneuver so that it wouldn't pass through Jupiter's shadow. Apparently it would be in dark so long that ...
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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 ...
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What are the tradeoffs of circularly unfurling solar panel over linearly deploying solar panels?

Martian landers like Phoenix and Insight uses circularly unfurling solar panels. The regular satellites make use of linearly unfurling panels. What are the primary reasons why linear unfurling ...
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Is solar panel 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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Why don't rockets recharge in space using solar panels while orbiting similar to ISS for deeper space travel?

I was just curious why this isn't possible because it's clearly been considered based on the existence of them in the ISS for keeping the facility online. I'd appreciate some clarity on this. Thanks a ...
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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 ...
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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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377 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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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 ...
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For the three spacecraft now on their way to Mars plus ExoMars, how many have any solar power capability during transit?

Right now EMM Hope, Tiangwen-1 and Mars2020 are on their way to Mars and ExoMars will go next time. For these four spacecraft how many of them have any provisions to use solar power via photovoltaic ...
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1answer
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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244 views

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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1answer
255 views

Dyson Swarm: Does Mercury have enough mass/raw material?

Does Mercury have enough mass/raw elements to construct an Inverse Dyson Swarm/Bubble (for lack of a better term)? Inverse Dyson Swarm/Bubble Wiki -- a lot like the Dyson Bubble around the star, but ...
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1answer
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Will the Rosalind Franklin (ExoMars) rover solar panels be able to clear themselves of dust by tilting?

The BBC News item 'Rosalind Franklin' Mars rover assembly completed contains a short video, and I show some screen shots below. It looks like the panels unfold twice, from two stacks of three, to six ...
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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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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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How often have dust devils saved a Martian lander or rover?

This answer to How are the Mars Rovers maintained? reminds us that ...much to the surprise of the early Mars scientists and rover teams, Mars takes care of the dust problem for us! Mars' typical ...
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What would be the influence of nearby planets on a Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm?

Considering orbital mechanics, I would like to ask what would be the effect of nearby planets such as the Earth or Jupiter on a Dyson sphere. A Dyson sphere is not realistic because of the tremendous ...
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What is the calculation for the distance VIPER can travel without recharging its batteries?

VIPER, the lunar rover NASA has developed to search for water in the permanently shadowed regions near the south pole of our Moon, will be equipped with (rechargeable) batteries to be able to drive, ...
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Why do the two Apollo 11 PSEP solar panels appear to have different backing materials?

The PSEP (Passive Seismic Experiment Package) was powered by a pair of solar panels mounted on extended arms. The one on the left (when looking towards the LEM) appears to have a matt grey backing: ...
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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 ...
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589 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 ...