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|Power from Above|
"We should begin marrying the concepts for the exploration of space with the utilization of space," Dr. Peter Curreri, a materials scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, said. "The key is to build. Rather than just going to Mars to say we did it, you want to go there and build an infrastructure so people could stay and live." In a March 3, 1999 NASA news release, Curreri outlined his plan of how Mars could become "energy rich." He proposed a "solar clipper" powered by an ion drive and large solar sails for the voyage to and from Mars. The plan also called for the clipper to be put in mars-sychonous orbit (17 023 km, or for us US folk, 10 577.6 mi) and have it beam down energy in the form of microwaves. Using rectifying antennas (rectennas) made almost entirely from Mars ore and Roman-era methods, a 1.5 km-wide rectenna would provide 150 kilowatts of electricity. This energy could be used to run the base and create more iron and rocket fuel to make more rectennas. The iron would acctualy be a byproduct of the reaction to make the rocket fuel methane(water + carbon dioxide -> methane + carbon monoxide; carbon monoxide + iron oxide -> carbon dioxide + iron). If the array were increased to 20-km, it would output 7-megawatts, more than enough on which to run a base. Expanding the array further would require the shipment of small rectifying circuits from Earth. The array would be easy to care for, as dust would not interfere with its operation and the iron would not oxidize in the Martian atmosphere.
|The basic elements of the rectenna are amazingly simple to make. They are just folded metal strips sandwiching an insulator (left) and arranged on a wire mesh reflector (right).|
(More info: Bringing Mars into the Iron Age - Space Science News)
- posted by Jim @ 12:34 EST