(ORDO NEWS) — The US Department of Defense announced successful tests with a solar panel the size of a pizza box, which experts sent into orbit in May 2020. The device now produces enough electricity to power an iPad, and the Pentagon plans to create a network of such panels in the future.
Scientists have been pondering the idea of collecting energy in space for a long time, perhaps soon this concept will become an everyday reality.
The Photovoltaic Radiofrequency Antenna Module (PRAM) was launched in May 2020, attached to the Pentagon’s X-37B drone, which loops around the Earth every 90 minutes. The panel is designed to collect sunlight and convert it into electricity. It was launched as part of an experiment aimed at using solar radiation from space and directing it anywhere on Earth.
This system is designed to use light more efficiently. In space, it does not have to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, which means it conserves the energy of blue waves. According to the chief project manager Paul Jaffe, the solar panel now produces about 10 watts, which is enough to charge one iPad.
The main difference of such a panel from conventional models operating in space is that in the future it will transmit energy to our planet. However, it has not yet sent energy directly to Earth, but, as experts say in an interview with CNN, this technology has already been proven. They will begin power transfer testing as soon as they build a prototype for a higher orbit.
The concept of using solar panels in space, where the energy level is higher, and the further transfer of this energy to Earth is nothing new. The idea was also described by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in 1941 in his sci-fi short story Logic, which showed how a space station was used as an “energy converter” to collect sunlight and transmit it throughout the solar system.
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