When it comes to settling our nearest neighbors, both Mars and Luna (aka the Moon) present unique challenges as far as energy goes.

Although one could always import numerous mini-nuclear reactors upon each respective world from Earth (controversy aside), it may make more sense to rely upon the fiery breathe from our Sol star.

Instead of physically rotating a blade attached to a turbine, the proposed satellite would use a charged copper wire to capture electrons zooming away from the sun at several hundred kilometers per second.

According to the team’s calculations, 300 meters (984 feet) of copper wire, attached to a two-meter-wide (6.6-foot-wide) receiver and a 10-meter (32.8-foot) sail, would generate enough power for 1,000 homes.

A satellite with a 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) cable and a sail 8,400 kilometers (5,220 miles) across, placed at roughly the same orbit, would generate one billion billion gigawatts of power.

That’s approximately 100 billion times the power Earth currently uses. (Discovery News)

Although this idea is being proposed for usage upon our home world, it might be easier (not to mention wiser) to adapt it to power future colonies upon the Moon as well as for Mars.

Even though the first explorers of Mars and Luna will use solar power to help keep the lights on, using our Sun’s solar wind could allow us to power cities without having to rely upon nuclear fuel imports from Earth.

Perfecting this technology would allow Lunar settlements to operate during the 2 weeks of darkness while Martian outposts might be able to transform one of their asteroid moons (preferably Deimos) into a gigantic power station that could help power Martian cities every few days.

While it’s skeptical that something like this would be allowed near Earth (due to the environmental consciousness of our global governments), it would make more sense when used for off world colonies upon Luna, Mars and beyond.

(via MSNBCImage Credit: NASA and the Journal of Geophysical Research – Space Physics)

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