Living In Space: Energy Essay, Research Paper
Living In Space: Energy
Space is filled with radiant energy and beyond earth s atmosphere this energy flow more steadily and more intensely from the sun than that which penetrates to the surface of the Earth. So an abundant and essential source of energy that would be used in space for the space colony would be solar radiation by developing satellite solar power stations.
To live in space, humans must be protected from the fierce intensity and penetrating wavelengths of unattenuated sunlight, but this same energy is one of the primary resources of space. The colony will have to have enough energy to maintain a fairly uniform temperature even
though it is apace. The sun shines twenty-four hours a day and is not dimmed by an atmosphere. Shaded materials not exposed to direct sunlight will almost be at absolute zero. While the temperature in closed bodies exposed to the sun can soar above the boiling point. The colony will need to have both heaters and air conditioners. On the other hand, this sun s energy can be converted into electricity in the colonies. It will be converted with ten percent efficiency to electrical power which is sold at a rate of .012 kw/hr, a square kilometre of space would return more than $14,000,000 each year.
Converting solar power to electricity in space, we would build satellite solar power stations that would intercept the sunlight and convert it into electricity. The satellite solar power stations would intercept enough sunlight to replace five nuclear reactors or coal plants. The stations could be as big as nine miles long and four miles wide and it would only weigh twenty thousand tons. It would be built with hollow triangular girders made of aluminum that is very fast and easy to build . Solar power satellites are a pollution free way to generate electricity and cost no more than coal or nuclear energy. There has been twomajor designed stations made so far. One is designed by Peter Glaser of Author D. Little Inc., which would use very large arrays of photo voltaic cells to make the conversion directly into energy. The other major design is by Gordon Woodcock of Boeing Aircraft Corporation, proposed having conventional turbogenerators operating on a Brayton cycle with helium as the working fluid.
The key product in the solar power stations is solar cells, which does the actual converting of energy into electricity. A useful material is found in lunar soil is silicon which is used to make solar cells. So we can produce a large amount of these cells and then we can avoid any problems of shipping the material from earth. Cells convert sunlight directly into electricity and this could be used to supply the electricity for the construction and operation of the space colony. It would be simple to put together large scale solar collectors and mirrors around the colony. A solar cell is made from two thin layers of material, usually silicon, which has been prepared in a special way. The net effect of this arrangement is that the sunlight falling on the cell shakes the electrons loose in the material, then these electrons move off into an outside circuit, which is detected as an electrical current. Things are arranged so that most of the work involved in generating the electricity is done by forces associated with the atoms themselves, with no energy input other than sunlight. So getting energy from the sun would seem pretty easy. All we d have to do is just make enough solar cells to collect the amount of energy we need, put them in the light, and sit back and watch the electrons flow.
In space sunlight is a pretty diffuse form of energy and that could cause some problems. Even if we could convert sunlight to electricity at one-hundred percent efficiency, it would take a sheet about three feet on a side to power an ordinary toaster. This is why designers of solar power satellites are driven to talk about very large structures. Solar cells can never convert all of the sunlight that falls on them to electricity. The reasons for this is depended on the basic laws of physics. Only about one-third of the sunlight falling on a cell comes in forms whose energy is not great enough to move the electron. This means that one-third of the sunlight hitting the cell will never get converted into electrical energy, but will just heat the cell.
There is one drawback in today s technology of the solar power satellite stations. The conventional solar panels are at best only thirty percent efficient, and can seriously be eroded by atomic oxygenic the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Their repair will depend on regular Shuttle flights: if these are interrupted, serious power shortages may result and experiments, or even habitation modules, may have to abandoned. This would be a serious threat to human lives and the space program would really feel a major set back. But with more research and development, we should be able to improve on today s technology and we will not have to worry about human lives taking a major risk.
All in all radiation from the sun is a great source of energy for the future of space colonization. The use of the sun will cut down on the use of fossil fuels and any other chemicals that could be used to create energy in space. With more research and testing, the use of the sun s radiation will greatly enhance the space colonization and will
help in the everyday life of the colony.
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Booth, Nicholas “Space In The Next 100 Years” Mitchell Beazley Publishers New York 1990