While researching a longer blog post, to come soon, on Mars we were struck by the question of Power Generation, from most mission previews we have seen they plan to use Nuclear generators. While there are benefits to Nuclear generators there are also problems, the biggest of which is the public’s negativity towards launching anything that mentions Nuclear.
Therefore we would like to start a discussion on looking at alternate options and determine if they are feasible and how they could be setup on Mars.
We know that Solar Power generation on Mars is possible as several rovers have deployed this approach, the question is what size panels or arrays would be needed to generate enough power for a base on Mars, also this couldn’t be the only option for power generation due to needed constant power which wouldn’t be possible at night or during dust storms which have been known to last long periods of time.
We know from observing Mars that there is wind generated, therefore it seems feasible that we could construct Wind Turbines and use these to generate power. Again the question is how many and how big would they need to be. As with Solar Power the generation of power isn’t guaranteed and therefore this option would have to be used to supplement the main source of power.
We have seen evidence of Water flows on the surface of Mars, however this would seem to be an inconsistent option depending on how much water is found and how fast it flows. This could be a good source of power generation if a constant water flow was found which would most likely be underground and therefore require a lot of effort to setup.
Fossil Fuel Power
At the moment we don’t know enough about Mars to determine if there are fossil fuels on the planet. However that is not a reason to discount it either, as we know the planet once had water and could well have had planet life too. If that is the case there could well be fossil fuels buried underground that could be mined.
Are any of these feasible?
While this isn’t as simple question as it seems the basic answer it Yes these are feasible, however for any of them to work we would require significant infrastructure on Mars to manufacture the parts needed, as transporting them would be too costly. Therefore it seems that for the short term Nuclear power is the only feasible way to generate the amount of power that would be needed by a Mars base.
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