By resorting to them, expanding them across the region and innovating with new designs, no one is surprised to find wind turbines anymore. We’ve seen them in petite and XXL sizes, without blades, floating in the middle of the ocean, on mountains, on rooftops or with crazy configurations. And while all of them will still need to be spread if we’re to meet our 2050 renewable energy targets, we’ll continue to see them more frequently in the future. Where we haven’t found them, they have settled in craters or on the slopes of volcanoes on Mars. For now, of course. Things may change in future.
A group of American scientists wondered if eolic energy Could help us colonize Mars. It may sound strange, but the question has its own logic. Especially if tomorrow we want to promote exploration of the Red Planet or even guarantee a stable presence on its surface, resulting in reliable and secure energy that will be needed.
The atmosphere of Mars is much thinner than that of our planet. To be more precise, its density registers only 1% of that of the terrestrial, a characteristic that is reflected in the strength of its gusts of wind and leaves a rudimentary situation not particularly enthusiastic in taking advantage of the wind’s potential. it occurs. In fact, that was the view of researchers for quite some time, who chose to outright rule that option out as a viable energy source.
“It’s really exciting”
However, in late 2022, a group of scientists published an article nature astronomy Which shows that the Martian wind may prove to be a more valuable ally than we thought. After all, it also has advantages over two other alternative energy sources: solar and nuclear,
The first will be susceptible to variations throughout the day, seasons and latitude, not to mention the challenge that dust storms will pose to its operation. The second would force us to recover radioactive material near human habitations and face the vexing question of how to dispose of its waste.
In their study, Victoria Hartwick of the NASA Ames Research Center and her colleagues originally estimated the potential of wind power over a year on the surface of Mars. For their analysis they used NASA climate models and different maps With data collected by the Mars Global Surveyor and Viking missions.
Regarding technology, he worked with commercial-scale machines with different powers and rotor diameters. “The biggest challenge for wind power on Mars is that even strong winds don’t have a lot of force,” Hartwick told Space.com. Such peculiarity did not prevent the team from identifying regions 13″ wide stationary wind resource,
These are not the only findings they have obtained.
Thanks to their observations, they found that Mars’ wind power potential is stronger at night and presents itself as an interesting option during dust storms or winter seasons in polar and mid-latitudes. Some of these characteristics are doubly interesting because they reinforce its value as a complementary energy source to solar.
by examining the characteristics of 50 landing points As proposed for Mars, the team also verified that in the vast majority, 40, wind power would be able to supply at least a certain amount of useful energy. In a small handful, even 24 kilowatts will be marked, which would allow the Space.com website to supply a team of half a dozen crew members for more than a third of a year. . Other points leave equally interesting percentages.
The investigation pointed to seven, in fact, in which wind power would be able to cover more than half the energy at times, with poor conditions for solar power. Its potential is particularly interesting when combined with other supplementary sources, such as photovoltaic panels, to cover demand.
“We found that the wind speed at some of the proposed landing sites is fast enough to provide a power source. independent or complementary for solar or nuclear power”, the authors note in their article before pointing out that there are regions of the Red Planet with “promising potential” for harnessing wind power.
“This compensates for daily and seasonal reductions in solar energy, particularly in areas of scientific value in the mid-latitudes and during regional dust storms,” they are abundant. Their calculations actually show that turbines combined with solar panels can “stabilize” electricity generation.
And they specify: If the time to exceed the projected energy requirements for missions is only about 40% with solar panels when turbines are included in the equation that cover the skies over “a large fraction of the Martian surface.” touches. running into a fork that goes from 60 to 90%,
These are not bad values with NASA’s Artemis lunar mission headed as a springboard towards Mars and while China or Elon Musk point to the arrival of humans on the Red Planet in the next decade. “We encourage additional studies aimed at advancing wind turbine technology,” the experts concluded. Goal: Get more out of the Martian winds.
“s really exciting By combining wind power with other energy sources we open up large parts of the planet to exploration, to really interesting areas from a scientific point of view that the community would have dismissed because of the power requirements,” Hartwick told Newsscientist. told.