Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Martian Colonies Powered By Solar Balloons? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Image: Drawing of solar balloons collecting energy from the Sun. Credit: Geotechtra)

(Hat Tip: IsraGood)

When it comes to energy resources, the crimson world offers very few options towards future colonists. Although scientists are researching ways to create methane on Mars, solar balloons on the red planet may provide a better choice for future inhabitants.

(Israel 21st Century) The Israeli scientist, who is shortly to complete his PhD at the Department of Aeronautical Engineering, Architecture and City Construction, at Haifa's Technion Israel Institute of Technology, has developed a new way to produce electricity using helium balloons made from fabric coated with photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. These balloons are much cheaper to build and install than existing solar panels, and also take up far less room, which is significant in an urban environment.

The balloons, which are a little like mini-Zeppelins, are connected to the ground via two cables: one to refill helium, and the other to pass the electricity to a control panel.

Although these balloons are adapted for life on Earth, future models could be shipped towards Mars as they would be much lighter (and cheaper) than regular solar panels on the ground.

Solar balloons may also be less likely to "collect" dust than their land locked cousins, mainly because stronger (and higher) Martian winds should be able to keep the objects clean.

Note: Since Martian gravity is weaker, these balloons would need a device that would be able to not only deploy the balloons, but take down defective ones. Perhaps LiftPort's Tethered Towers could easily provide this role.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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