They used detailed info about Mars such as precise landscape, heat, energy, dust levels, solar radiation levels etc. which were taken from maps generated by Mars Global Surveyor and Viking missionsBased on this info, they created a simulation to show the kind of wind speeds seen across the planet during the day, night and its seasons
A new study conducted by NASA researchers reveals that if humans were to colonise Mars, they could generate energy using wind power, reveals a report by NewScientist.
Scientists in the past generally didn’t consider wind power as a key energy source for Mars missions since Mars winds were considered to be not as impactful. However, the novel research reveals that wind power on Mars is a stable, sustained energy resource across large areas of the planet.
To the unaware, winds on Mars have around 99 percent less force compared to the winds of the same speed on Earth since Mars has a thinner atmosphere. Studies conducted on Martian winds were usually for landing or single assessments of mountainous ridges and they didn’t offer the full picture of the planet’s potential for wind energy, which can be different in different times of the day.
Researchers made use of a global climate model originally designed for Earth, to look at wind movement on the red planet. They used detailed info about Mars such as precise landscape, heat, energy, dust levels, solar radiation levels etc. which were taken from maps generated by Mars Global Surveyor and Viking missions.
Based on this info, they created a simulation to show the kind of wind speeds seen across the planet during the day, night and its seasons.
For each unit area on Mars, researchers calculated the maximum power that could be produced using a 100 percent efficient wind turbine. They also calculated the theoretical power returns from four commercial turbines in different sizes that are actively used on our planet today. This was then compared with estimated energy requirements for six people on Mars for a mission for around 500 Martian days.
Researchers saw that the wind energy was not just capable of complementing solar energy, especially during night and dust storms that block out sunlight, but even capable of completely replacing it in some areas. It showed the most potential around the Martian crater rims and the volcanic highlands.
The Planetary Society
Victoria Hartwick at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, said in a statement, “When we talk about human missions to Mars, we want stable energy resources, in the most interesting scientific locations. With wind power in concert with solar, some really interesting portions are accessible.”
Hartwick added, “This is a major avenue of additional research that we really encourage. We’re excited to see what the engineering community comes up with.”