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Solar in Space


What do sand and wind have in common with solar modules? They’ve been used to clean said modules on Mars, and this story is out of this world!


According to PV Magazine, “NASA scientists have partially cleaned up the solar modules of the Insight lander operating on Mars, by using grain sands collected nearby and trickling them on the panels during the windiest time of the day.”


Emiliano Bellini further states that this is a handmade technique that increases a photovoltaics array’s “yield of about 30 watt-hours of energy per ‘sol’, or ‘Martian day’.”

Robotic arms collect sand over time and then trickle the material on the solar modules delicately to clean them.


The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration state, “With winds blowing northwest at a maximum of 20 feet (6 meters) per second, the trickling of sand coincided with an instantaneous bump in the spacecraft’s overall power.”


Who would have thought that a pesky particle such as sand would allow solar modules to come squeaky clean?

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