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Feedback wanted: Where are you getting stuck?
#3
Hey, thanks for the comments!

When you talk about a skirt of solar panels, do you really mean a skirt that sticks out from the habitat, like the current radiator skirt?  Or do you mean panels that line the outside of the habitat like a skin?

Currently, we are assuming that your rotation axis is always perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic.  It wouldn't have to be that way, but if it's not, then you get into some thorny issues about keeping things pointed where you want them (solar panels at the sun, radiators at black sky, communications dishes at whatever they're receiving, etc.).  That's because a space colony is the world's biggest gyroscope, and you're just not going to be able to change its axis, even as it orbits around a planet which orbits around the sun.  So the north pole of your colony would be pointed at the sun for part of the year, and away from the sun for the opposite part of the year.  It's a logistical mess.

So for that reason, we made the simplifying assumption early on that your spin (north/south) axis would point out of the plane of the ecliptic, just like most of the planets.  Now you can be sure your colony has a consistent orientation, with the sun always shining on it from the side.

Because of that, I don't think an actual skirt of solar panels makes much sense — they'd be edge-on to the sun.  However, I could see a lining of panels, wrapped around the habitat like a skin.  (Which is probably exactly what you were suggesting.)  You're right, the power generated would be less than 1/2 what flat solar panels would produce, but that might be OK.  (We'd do the math to work out the exact figure.)  Good idea!

Joe Strout
Lead Developer, High Frontier

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RE: Feedback wanted: Where are you getting stuck? - JoeStrout - 09-16-2016, 10:21 AM

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