In the end, nuclear isn’t the best solution for colonies on Mars

Go to Mars, it’s good. It’s even better to walk there. But all this will require energy. especially electricity. And also on earth, now the question arises how to produce it. As on Earth, Solar and Nuclear each want to pull a blanket for themselves. Which of the two will be victorious? Researchers have their own view.

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[EN VIDÉO] live and act like moon or mars
Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) is a research station installed at an altitude of about 2,500 meters in a dome of about 110 square meters on the sides of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. Objective: To simulate the lives of human colonists who would settle on the Moon or Mars. Not only to understand how astronauts would be able to interact with each other in difficult situations, but also to develop the most appropriate methods and equipment for living and researching on the Moon and Mars. © HI-SEAS

Experts say it again and again in the context of Global warming that we live, resist nuclear power generation And there is no point in producing renewable electricity. On Earth anyway. But now this debate has suddenly reached an unexpected height. By exporting to Mars. While most of the engineers working on this question validated the nuclear option as the best option, Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley (United States) revealed today that solar could generate all the electricity they would need for future Martian colonists. For an extended mission and even for a permanent installation on the Red Planet.

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remember that NASA has been working for many years on the development of small nuclear reactors called kilopower, Reactors that can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. and that engineers today consider safe and effective in supporting exploration roboticBut also humans from Mars.

Ale’solar energy, it presents itself with some of the same shortcomings we know on earth. The electricity thus produced must be stored if it is to be used at night. and on Mars, storm Dust sometimes covers the sky, covering everything with a red veil. we remember that Nomad from nasa Opportunity In 2019, one of these storms was broken due to the storm.

Difficulty estimating energy needs

But the University of California researchers didn’t want to stop there. To compare the two solutions, he opted for a systematic approach. taking into account one mission to mars In 480 days, a travel time of about 420 days is included. Because they don’t know what energy would be needed for such a mission, physicists Created a mathematical model to explore different scenarios. For example scenarios including the need for temperature and pressure control for the production of fertilizersagriculture Mars will supply Joe’s propellant for methane production rocket Intended for return to Earth or for the production of bioplastics.

They combined these needs with the production possibilities of nuclear kilopower and photovoltaic generation systems with three storage options. simple battery productionhydrogen Directly by photoelectrochemical cells or by hydrogen production electrolysis, a hydrogen that could then be used on Earth to supply some hypotheses fuel cells During the night of Mars or during the famous dust storms.

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Solar power may be the most interesting

As a result, on nearly half of Mars’ surface – particularly in the equatorial regions – solar energy is ultimately presented as a more interesting solution than nuclear power. If and only if, however, solar production is combined with a hydrogen electrolysis system.

A question of efficiency, but above all, of the weight of the solar panels. to a landing site nearEquatorFor example, researchers estimate that the total weight of the on-board solar panels for a rocket carrying a 100-ton payload – as well as a hydrogen storage system – would be about 8.3 tons. -, as compared to 9.5. Ton for Kilopower reactor system. Probably enough to consider carrying an emergency panel. Which would not be possible for a nuclear system. However, the researchers point out that their work is valid only when we consider the recently developed flexible solar panels. lighter because they do without structures steel or even glass supports are traditionally seen terraces of our good old earth.

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