How Has NASA Helped with Engineering Solar Power Technology?
NASA is largely to thank to the advancements of solar technology, as they have developed some of the most groundbreaking advancements in the solar energy industry. Meanwhile, their Advanced Energy division is showing no signs of slowing down as these scientists are dedicating their lives to coming up with effective and cost-efficient solar energy solutions that can be implemented around the world as well as in space.
With a climate crisis that seems to be more and more concerning with each passing year, the bright side of things is that technology is advancing like never before, largely thanks to major organizations like NASA who, fortunately for all of us, have the funding to develop new means for powering our lives. Many people who don’t keep up with NASA don’t recognize just how much the organization is capable of improving our lives on Earth, and that they do so much more than send men and women into space for observations of space objects. One of the greatest contributions that NASA has made to the world is the advancement of solar power technology, which will inevitably have a major positive impact on our lives in the years to come as it begins to get implemented into our day-to-day lives.
Solar Energy: The Future of Power?
Solar energy uses sunlight to create electronic and thermal power. The energy emitted from the sun is capable of providing us with a sustainable means for power that requires no depletion of resources here on Earth. Therefore, solar energy is green, sustainable, and environmentally beneficial compared to the sources of power that we rely on largely around the world today.
One reason why solar energy has not yet been the dominant source of energy in the world is because its technology is still in the developmental stages. Sure, some of our neighbors have solar panels on their roofs, but the technology to power more complex forms of energy require a lot more testing and tweaking of the solar technology we have at our disposal presently.
There has been a stronger push for solar power in recent years at the requests of environmental specialists who worry that time is running out to find an alternative form of power to save our planet. Therefore, many organizations are stepping up to the plate like never before to take this technology as far as it can go for the betterment of society and the longevity of Earth.
NASA’s Contributions to Solar Power Technology
In space, there is no electrical outlet that can charge a phone or turn on a light. Therefore, space exploration relies on solar energy to enable anything that requires thermal or electrical power. In today’s era of space travel, missions simply wouldn’t be possible without this energy source. As a result, NASA has had to develop highly advanced means for accumulating and harnessing solar power in order to maintain its operations.
The advancements developed by NASA for this reason have major impacts not only on space travel, but how we live our lives. By developing more advanced, sustainable and reliable means for obtaining solar energy, they’ve brought our planet much closer to being able to utilize this power here on Earth.
NASA actually has an entire division dedicated to developing solar energy solutions, called Advanced Energy: Photovoltaics. Scientists belonging to this division have access to research instruments and methods that private companies simply do not, thanks to the enormous funding that it receives each year. But, the division is able to share their discoveries and developments with private companies who prioritize alternative energy solutions here on Earth as a collaborative effort to create a more sustainable means of power that has nothing to do with space travel at all, and everything to do with the sustainability of the planet.
One of the most exciting recent developments from NASA is the discovery of nanotubes, which act as solar cells containing carbon pillars. Nanotubes decrease light reflection and increase surface area to solar panels, to make them acquire and redistribute solar energy in a far more efficient and effective manner.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the biggest obstacles for solar energy is dust. As dust particles accumulate on solar panels, which is inevitable, the surface is no longer to properly absorb the amount of energy needed to provide dependable and ample power. NASA is presently working on developing fully dustproof panels that utilize self-cleaning technology, and this, believe it or not, could be a major gamechanger for the solar energy industry moving forward.
Just a few weeks ago, NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft showed off yet another solar power development. Incorporating more advanced solar arrays into the spacecraft’s design, which are groups of solar panels, the spacecraft successfully managed to maintain power at a farther distance from the sun than was ever thought to be possible, thus proving that solar technology on a large scale is far more obtainable than previously believed.