Mars and Regulus

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Mars and Regulus

That’s the sigh of the winds of Mars blowing across the Perseverance rover. Some day, those winds could be an important power source for human explorers. According to a recent study, at some locations, a single wind turbine could power an entire Mars habitat. And it could supplement solar power just about anywhere.

There are several options for powering a human base on Mars. A nuclear generator could provide power 24 hours a day, and wouldn’t be influenced by the weather. But shipping the nuclear materials to Mars has some safety risks. A second option is solar power. But, over the course of a year, the Sun is in good position only about 40 percent of the time. So it would need good batteries to store up enough energy for the frigid Martian nights.

The new study found that solar and wind could combine to provide power 60 to 90 percent of the time at most locations. And at some spots, wind could carry the entire load. Wind power would be most efficient at night and during winter, when there’s less sunlight and stronger winds. Wind would also be better during dust storms, and near the poles — opening more of Mars for exploration.

Look for Mars in the west at nightfall, to the upper left of Venus, the “evening star.” Tonight, Mars is close to the right of the star Regulus, the heart of Leo. Mars and Regulus will be closest in a couple of nights.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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