Outta This World. US Spends Megabucks on Solar Arrays

Today NASA Astronauts deployed two massive solar panels on the International Space Station (ISS) as it orbited Earth. One array alone will be spread out over 73 metres (240 ft). They are part of a 16 tonne truss and panel payload that NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis recently heaved up into space. After a couple of glitches were ironed out, the first of arrays unfurled to catch light from the sun and convert it into elec-trickery for the crew of the ISS. These new panels are expected to provide 25% of the space station’s energy needs. (Earlier solar panels were installed in 2000.) Couple this news with the long lasting solar powered Mars Rovers and one can only conclude that solar is simply not a robust enough technology to cope with mission critical situations. Shouldn't we be sticking with the tried and true? I mean, why aren't the ISS or the Mars Rovers run on coal generated energy, for example? ~:^) NASA, via ABC Online here and here. Yeh, yeh. We know that a whopping amount of energy was expended getting these things up there to begin with. But we’re talking here about long term, ongoing electricity generation, not one-off propulsion.


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