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Breezes could help lander on Mars



A new study suggests that wind is possible on Mars.

The researchers demonstrated a small, lightweight wind turbine under simulated Mars atmosphere conditions in the Aarhus Wind Tunnel Simulator II at Aarhus University in Denmark

was held in the fall of 2010. The study team reported on folgefunde and a strong message from home in a lecture presented at the Mars Workshop on Amazon and Current Climate, held last week in Lakewood, Colorado. [7 Biggest Mysteries of Mars]

"For the time being we can say for the first time and with certainty that, YES, you can use the wind power on Mars!" Researchers led by Christina Holstein-Rathlou from Boston University's Center for Space Physics wrote in the study

Realistic Conditions

The aim of the wind turbine research was to see how much power is generated under realistic Martian atmospheric conditions.

Standard power sources would not work well for future potential robot missions into the polar regions of Mars, stated Holstein-Rathlou and her colleagues. Solar cells would have limited or no solar radiation for about half the year, and the heat released by a thermoelectric radioisotope generator (the device that drives the NASA Curiosity Mars rover and many other space exploration equipment) or similar devices would be detrimental to any science performed polar region.

Another potential energy source is a wind turbine along with a battery for storing electricity produced, possibly in conjunction with solar cells, the researchers said.

Blowing the Wind

The concept of a Martian wind turbine was theoretically explored in connection with human missions on the Red Planet. For example, a 1

00-kilowatt wind turbine was designed by researchers at the NASA Ames Research Center in California and tested in the Antarctic – a general Mars analog site.

However, these early concepts were large and heavy, requiring significant wind speeds to be functional, said Holstein-Rathlou and her colleagues. Also, these sizes and masses are not feasible for scientific missions on Mars, which are generally relatively small and light, the researchers added.

The 2010 wind tunnel trials were conducted at six different wind speeds. These were based on the most common wind speeds at the far north landing of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, which started in May 2008; the minimum wind speed needed to turn the wind turbine; and the maximum wind speed that the wings can withstand. (Typical wind speeds on Mars are about 4.5 mph to 22 mph or 7 to 35 km / h.)

For each wind speed, the output voltage was measured for 30-120 seconds.

"The optimal locations for this type of power generation are areas where the sun does not always shine, but winds blow, as do the latitudes poleward of the Arctic Circle," the researchers wrote.

A number of studies have yet to be done before the turbine. Toting probes are ready to launch towards Mars, the team emphasized. However, most designs, singular or part of a system, are more efficient than the setup tested in the Experiments 2010 and should therefore result in power production in an area capable of supporting some or all of the instruments on a small lander, researchers said ,

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