Author Topic: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source  (Read 6517 times)

Offline JayJR

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Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« on: 12/29/2013 08:49 PM »
Hello, I'm new here, but I did a search and it never came up.

Given how there are power source issues beyond the inner solar system, I came across this article about, essentially gaining power from Earth's Van Allen Belts:

http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/doc/EVENTS/InnovativeSystemWorkshop2/ACT-ART-Bridge2Space-Yakovlev.pdf

Obviously, this is applicable to Jupiter and Saturn.

Has anyone else looked into this and how possible is it, really?

Thank you!  ;)

Online QuantumG

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #1 on: 12/29/2013 10:33 PM »
Welcome to the forum! Have a search on http://ntrs.nasa.gov/ You'll be surprised what you can find :)
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Offline JayJR

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #2 on: 12/30/2013 12:40 AM »
Thank you!  Unfortunately, I found nothing.  My report was from the ESA, not NASA, but it doesn't mean it can't be investigated.  What now?
« Last Edit: 12/30/2013 01:53 AM by JayJR »

Offline JayJR

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #3 on: 01/02/2014 12:34 AM »
I'm quite shocked there is no interest in this.  Such a power source would solve the problem with RTGs in places like Jupiter and Saturn.  Guess no one cares.   :-\

Online QuantumG

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #4 on: 01/02/2014 12:37 AM »
I'm quite shocked there is no interest in this.  Such a power source would solve the problem with RTGs in places like Jupiter and Saturn.  Guess no one cares.   :-\

Other than "sounds neat", I don't know what you expect from this forum.
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Offline savuporo

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #5 on: 01/02/2014 02:12 AM »
I'm quite shocked there is no interest in this.  Such a power source would solve the problem with RTGs in places like Jupiter and Saturn.  Guess no one cares.   :-\
Yes, similar ideas have been looked into.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Allen_radiation_belt#Proposed_removal
Essentially, deploying a conductive tether. See more here http://www.tethers.com/HiVOLT3.html

The same researcher you quote ( Kolesnikov ) has published previous papers on the same theory http://link.springer.com/article/10.1134/S0010952506060049

Note that his papers are purely theoretical, there are no engineering details at all.

The problem with using the radiation belt as a power source is this - every other piece of your spacecraft wants to minimize the exposure to the radiation belt. Thats why Juno for example will go to a polar orbit.


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Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #6 on: 01/02/2014 03:50 PM »
it's van alen power related... I would like to see someone see if a van allen probe could preferentially scarf up antimatter. Just to see if it can be engineered and how much you could accumulate.
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Offline M129K

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #7 on: 02/01/2014 09:26 AM »
I'm quite shocked there is no interest in this.  Such a power source would solve the problem with RTGs in places like Jupiter and Saturn.  Guess no one cares.   :-\

A problem remains: How do you power the space probe on the way there, and if that power system would be in place already, why not use it at Jupiter or Saturn as well? I doubt a combination of a system using radiation for power and a solar array or RTG would save a lot of mass compared to just a solar array or RTG.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #8 on: 02/01/2014 06:00 PM »
I think a bigger problem is manuevering, as in how do you change your orbit with a long tether. Can you do a Galileo type mission where you visit multiple moons? If you are pulling power from the tether, doesn't that mean you are also slowly spiraling in?

Now a mission to drain Jupiter's radiation belts and make Jupiter safe for human exploration would have my attention ;)
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Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #9 on: 02/01/2014 07:38 PM »
Now a mission to drain Jupiter's radiation belts and make Jupiter safe for human exploration would have my attention ;)
That's an interesting idea.

I didn't really like the idea of messing with Earth's belt but there would be a clear argument for this (and probably a decision for a wiser civilization which already has Moon, Mars and Ceres under its belt)

Offline Vultur

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #10 on: 02/02/2014 02:50 AM »
Now a mission to drain Jupiter's radiation belts and make Jupiter safe for human exploration would have my attention ;)
That's an interesting idea.

I didn't really like the idea of messing with Earth's belt but there would be a clear argument for this (and probably a decision for a wiser civilization which already has Moon, Mars and Ceres under its belt)

Do Earth's Van Allen belts do anything relevant to us beyond irradiate satellites? I don't think they interact with the biosphere in any way.... also, since as I understand it they're derived from solar wind particles trapped by the magnetic field, wouldn't the belts just regenerate if we STOPPED messing with them? Or am I misunderstanding the nature of the belt?

Offline Stormbringer

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #11 on: 02/02/2014 04:02 AM »
the issue there is the radiation belts are the results of dynamic processes. completely draining the belts is impossible and even if you could they would regenerate. but that is good news. a regenerating source of naturally made antimatter, exotic particle hunting, a place to look for new physics and ashieldagainst cosmic irradiation.
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Offline cordwainer

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #12 on: 02/02/2014 04:25 AM »
In theory you could mess with a planets magnetic field, but would you want to. If you get it wrong it would be disastrous. The fact that the process is dynamic and a planets magnetic field fluctuates tends to make geomagnetic power generation systems rather inefficient, though. You would be better off using thermodynamic and electromagnetic differences in potential created on a moons surface as it passes in front of and away from the Sun as a power source or a surface mounted rectennae to absorb ionizing radiation released from the impact of charged particles on Jupiter's magnetic field than using an orbital tether.  Also, building an artificial atmosphere or strengthening a moon's magnetic field would be a much easier solution than monkeying with Jupiter's atmosphere.

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #13 on: 02/03/2014 07:17 AM »
Do Earth's Van Allen belts do anything relevant to us beyond irradiate satellites? I don't think they interact with the biosphere in any way.... also, since as I understand it they're derived from solar wind particles trapped by the magnetic field, wouldn't the belts just regenerate if we STOPPED messing with them? Or am I misunderstanding the nature of the belt?
I dunno. But it is a global effect and the benefit is merely to reduce an already surmountable problem affecting something like 0.5% of human activities.

Removing the radiation belt around Jupiter, if possible, could open a whole system of new worlds to human settlement after Mars and Ceres. It is just way more intriguing  to me.



Offline Andrew_W

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Re: Van Allen Belts as a Power Source
« Reply #14 on: 02/03/2014 07:46 AM »
70 page pdf:

REDUCTION OF TRAPPED ENERGETIC PARTICLE FLUXES IN EARTH AND JOVIAN RADIATION BELTS
Robert Hoyt Michele ash
 TethersUnlimited,Inc.

http://www.tethers.com/papers/Hoyt_ES_RBR_Final.pdf
« Last Edit: 02/03/2014 07:51 AM by Andrew_W »
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