Solar power is often thought of as a utility: a solution to a power problem. In the past, we’ve spoken about how solar power can be a great way to save on your energy bills; but in the future, it could also be the primary source of life-sustaining power on other planets.
The problem identified by NASA is that traditional fuel sources aren’t sustainable in space and need to be resupplied on Earth (it’s a struggle to cart thousands of tonnes of coal to new human colonies). So, to keep habitats and rockets humming along, we need something that will power a planet, wherever it may be. The solution is solar power.
The same solar panels you have on your roof are being used in space to keep vital machines running and help us explore other planets. The plans for solar power span from engines to homes with oxygen generators.
The International Space Station is already powered by solar, along with the batteries that keep the Mars exploration rovers, Opportunity and Spirit, moving.
Check out the infographic below to see some of our favourite uses of space-age solar, and what the future of space travel could look like.