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Last Post 3/22/2012 12:05 PM by  Kris Sigsbee
engineering a more efficient material
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3/22/2012 10:08 AM
    is it possible to engineer a more efficient material for harvesting solar energy ?
    Tags: Jupiter, solar energy, Juno, efficiency solar energy

    Kelly Larson

    New Member

    New Member

    3/22/2012 11:00 AM

    There is much work in this field being done at the National Renewable Energy Labratory (NREL) in Colorado. Materials are researched for all aspects of collecting and converting the sun's energy. Check it out at:

    For instance, researching coatings to use on the glass for photovoltaic (PV) modules is a very hot field right now. We need to absorb as much of the sun's energy as possible, while making sure that we protect the cells inside, and since PV modules can last 30 or 40 years, we need these coatings to last that long too.

    This is just one example, but there are so many more! Materials is a very hot field with a great future. I highly recommend that you pay close attention in chemistry - I didn't and had to take several classes in college to make up for it!

    Sunny day!

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/22/2012 12:05 PM


    There are always improvements being made to solar energy technology. Until recently, all of the NASA interplanetary missions to study Jupiter and the other outer planets had to use radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). RTGs used heat from the decay of radioactive materials to generate electricity for all of the scientific instruments on board the spacecraft. Jupiter receives 25 times less sunlight than Earth because it is so far away from the Sun, so it was not possible to use solar panels on missions to this planet in the past. NASA's Juno mission, which was launched in summer 2011, is the first mission to Jupiter using solar panels instead of RTGs. This is possible thanks to advances in solar cell design that make modern cells 50 percent more efficient and radiation tolerant than silicon cells available for space missions 20 years ago.


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