Dust-covered solar panels force NASA to end Mars InSight lander mission

mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,014   +1,204
Seems like a possible solution if the Martian atmosphere is humid enough. Maybe NASA will test it out on one of their upcoming Mars missions.

It seems like this might fall under that "complexity and cost" category that could prevent it being added to a Mars mission.
This is likely it. Extra complexity on a remote mission is a big risk, the JWST delays and cost speak to that.

The wheeled rovers were not expected to last as long as they did as dust accumulation on the solar panels was expected to do them in. However they kept getting hit by reasonable wind storms which cleared the panels off enough to keep trundling. Maybe they hoped for that here but this location is less affected by those kinds of wind.
Still, given the solar panel usage on Mars missions isn't going anywhere anytime soon, might at least be worth sending up an experimental panel that is capable of shaking the dust off. Obviously don't bank the whole mission on it, but if it works, it could extend the life of every future Mars mission.

I know it's nasa and I'm sure they already tho about it but maybe one or two little wind turbines could have been usefull ? I forgot if I heard there was high speed winds on Mars
Wind speeds are incredibly high on Mars. The issue is that the atmosphere is so light that even at higher speeds, there isn't a whole lot of energy to capture. Power:weight ratio doesn't make sense compared to RTG or solar panels.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 18,727   +7,667
Seems like a possible solution if the Martian atmosphere is humid enough. Maybe NASA will test it out on one of their upcoming Mars missions.
I'm thinking that since you have to dig down to even find a trace of water on mars, the atmosphere is likely bone dry. So, unless the dust has its own built in adhesive properties, compressed "air" would be a "logical" approach. Assuming the cycles of blowing off the dust were kept to reasonable intervals.

The panel performance would still decrease over the same period of time, but perhaps not so drastically.

Martian air would be "free", and the only added weight would be a compressor and storage tank..Again, (wild guess), the only weak in the air supply would be the compressor check valve, A perfect, (or nearly so), seal, would allow air pressure to build up over time, so as not to bleed to much power from the system at once.

Feel free to challenge any, or all, of these assumptions.
 
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