Solar reflectors to illuminate the moon’s permanently dark craters

The polar regions of the Moon have permanently shadowed craters that may contain untapped resources with vast potential for mining.

However, even on a lunar day some craters are in full shade and are not easily accessible.

Therefore, researchers are working to develop reflectors that redirect solar energy to craters on the moon.

Solar reflectors on the Moon

Texas A&M University researchers have teamed up with NASA Langley Research Center to develop a solution using reflectors to get solar power to the bottom of lunar craters.

„If you sit a reflector on the edge of a crater and have a collector in the center of the crater that receives sunlight, you can harness solar energy,” said Dr. Darren HartleAssociate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University.

„So, in a way, you’re bending light from the sun into the crater.”

Researchers use computer modeling systems to design designs for the reflector. According to preliminary research, the parabolic shape is more favorable for expanding the amount of light reflected at the bottom of the craters.

Parabolic designs are common in telescopes, microphones, and car headlights, and can be made to any size on Earth.

Major challenges

The challenge is that the reflector must be small enough to carry to the Moon, as it is expensive to launch even one pound of material into space.

Also, the reflector must be large enough to use enough power.

The researchers used a self-morphing material developed by Hartl and other Texas A&M engineers to meet both needs.

„During space missions, astronauts will have to use a large parabolic reflector from a relatively small and light landing system. We’re coming in,” he added. Hartl.

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Wild temperature fluctuations

Another challenge of operating on the Moon is the significant temperature changes between day and night.

At the equator, temperatures can reach 121 Celsius (250 F), the highest anywhere on Earth. But the temperature drops rapidly to -133 C (-208 F.) at night.

Permanent shadows in the Moon’s deep polar craters foster temperatures as low as -250 C (-415 F). Universe Today.

However, Hartl has previously developed materials for these pronounced temperature changes. He directs the Multifunctional Materials and Aerospace Structures Optimization (M2AESTRO) Laboratory at Texas A&M.

Hartl said the researchers are looking at using shape memory materials that change „the shape of the reflector in response to system temperature changes.”

„Our proposed solutions involve shape-shifting metals that adjust their own thermal rejection based on heat or cold, so this solves the problem for us,” Hartl previously said. Universe Today.


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About the editor

Prabhat Ranjan Mishra An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Prabhat is a technology and security journalist. While he enjoys writing about modern weapons and emerging technology, he has also reported on global politics and business. He was previously associated with well-known media houses including International Business Times (Singapore Edition) and ANI.

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