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Old 04-21-2012, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati near
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The nice thing about putting things in space is that they don't corrode. Some very high surface area materials with nanoscale structures don't last very long on earth due to the presence of reactive oxygen, which is not present in space. I actually worked on some of these materials at a national laboratory, and they were considered for a potential application such as this. There is a whole lot more to this idea than taking ground based solar technology and putting it in space.

The materials that I was working on had the ability to be made exceptionally thin. A square kilometer of microscopically thin panel would weigh a few hundred kg. This technology is not feasible on earth because gravity would cause it to collapse. I do not know all the details, but I would suggest that the scientists and engineers working on the project have worked them out enough to consider the project somewhat viable.

Another issue is the cost of real estate. At some point, especially with all of the private investment in putting satellites into space, it will be cheaper to put materials in space than it will be to acquire land that is suitable for solar energy production. I do not think we are there yet, but I don't think we are that far off. It may end up being cheaper to transfer energy a few thousand miles through the vacuum of space and the low pressure atmosphere than a few hundred miles along the surface of the earth.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chemistry_Guy View Post
The nice thing about putting things in space is that they don't corrode. Some very high surface area materials with nanoscale structures don't last very long on earth due to the presence of reactive oxygen, which is not present in space.
True but things on earth don't have any concerns with little bits of stuff going thousands of miles an hour either. I guess there is trade off for anything. I would presume this thing would be enormous so that would increase the likelihood of a collision. That also brings up another point, if they put something in space this large it would visible to the naked eye?

Perhaps they could sell naming rights to some bank.
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Old 04-21-2012, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Texas
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I assume they'll have it positioned so that space junk is not an issue?
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Brian.Pearson View Post
I assume they'll have it positioned so that space junk is not an issue?
I believe the bigger issue would be small pieces of debris they can't/don't track, even something very small can have catastrophic effects when it hits.
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