RIP Mars Phoenix Lander.

NASA has finished listening for the Phoenix Mars Lander, reports Spaceflight Now in *this article*.

It comes due to the Martian Winter fast approaching, the solar panels are unable to keep the batteries charge…. and it is a little tricky to send someone to run a generator or change the batteries. 😉

In a sense it is sad to lose a spacecraft, but Phoenix had done what it was supposed to do, and was operational for 2 months longer than its original 3 months mission. Not bad at all. The Odyssey orbiter appears to continue functioning, so not all is over yet, even if we are unlikely to hear it for some time while Mars passes behind the Sun (from our perspective).

Some Thoughts on Solar Energy

In the light of the previous post : “Breakthrough in Solar Energy ?” I would like to express some thought about generating and using energy.

I have, for some time, been thinking of how we could make better, more efficient use of the energy we have, one point being that distribution of energy over large distances is rather inefficient, and the energy should be harnessed more locally. For example, combine the energy generation for every house with regionally a generated reserve.

First of all, building the infrastructure, power lines, gas pipes, is expensive and energy consuming in itself.

Further, reliability. Local energy generation would make society less vulnerable to failures of the energy infrastructure (for any reason whatsoever).

Personally I would like to be at least partly self-sufficient when it comes to generating energy. and solar is the only viable energy form in that respect.

OK, we have to look into the energy efficiency of using solar cells, since the production of those use up a lot of energy.

I would think that a combination of solar cells and wind turbines would be the best for local energy generation.

More about this later ….

Breakthrough in Solar Energy ?

It looks like we have come one step closer to harnessing solar energy more efficiently. The article :

‘Major discovery’ from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution

caught my attention today. It concerns a new catalytic material making the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen in a very efficient way, storing the solar energy collected during the day, for use at night.

The process mimics photosynthesis, the way plants store energy from the sunlight.

According to the article the technology is so simple that it could be implemented within 10 years, imagine every house generating solar electric power during the day and using the stored surplus energy duing the night.