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Space Solar Power Technology Demonstration for Lunar Polar ApplicationsA solar power generation station on a mountaintop near the moon's North or South pole can receive sunlight 708 hours per lunar day, for continuous power generation. Power can be beamed from this station over long distances using a laser-based wireless power transmission system and a photo-voltaic receiver. This beamed energy can provide warmth, electricity, and illumination for a robotic rover to perform scientific experiments in cold, dark craters where no other power source is practical. Radio-frequency power transmission may also be demonstrated in lunar polar applications to locate and recover sub-surface deposits of volatile material, such as water ice. High circular polarization ratios observed in data from Clementine spacecraft and Arecibo radar reflections from the moon's South pole suggest that water ice is indeed present in certain lunar polar craters. Data from the Lunar Prospector spacecraft's epi-thermal neutron spectrometer also indicate that hydrogen is present at the moon's poles. Space Solar Power technology enables investigation of these craters, which may contain a billion-year-old stratigraphic record of tremendous scientific value. Layers of ice, preserved at the moon's poles, could help us determine the sequence and composition of comet impacts on the moon. Such ice deposits may even include distinct strata deposited by secondary ejecta following significant Earth (ocean) impacts, linked to major extinctions of life on Earth. Ice resources at the moon's poles could provide water and air for human exploration and development of space as well as rocket propellant for future space transportation. Technologies demonstrated and matured via lunar polar applications can also be used in other NASA science missions (Valles Marineris. Phobos, Deimos, Mercury's poles, asteroids, etc.) and in future large-scale SSP systems to beam energy from space to Earth. Ground-based technology demonstrations are proceeding to mature the technology for such a near-term scientific mission to the moon. This paper reviews the progress to date in demonstrating this technology on Earth and details the plans for near-term applications, to meet NASA's needs, in the moon's polar regions.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Marshall Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Henley, M. W.
(Boeing Co. United States)
Fikes, J. C.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Howell, J.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Mankins, J. C.
(NASA Headquarters Washington, DC United States)
Howell, J.
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2002
Subject Category
Energy Production And Conversion
Meeting Information
Meeting: 53rd International Astronautical Congress
Location: Houston, TX
Country: United States
Start Date: October 10, 2002
End Date: October 19, 2002
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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