Author Topic: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation  (Read 2242 times)

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #20 on: 12/30/2018 08:53 pm »
I don't think that a solar powered waystation is very useful.

Given likely battery performance, a long duration rover probably will be able to cover 500+ km, pulling a trailer with extra batteries then that range can probably be doubled. Long traverses will probably have two or more rovers in convoy. There is an awful lot of territory within 500 km of a settlement, spend just one day exploring each km square and it would take 2000 years! Place SUB-settlements within 500 km and there is no need for waystations.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #21 on: 12/30/2018 09:34 pm »
I don't think that a solar powered waystation is very useful.
Given likely battery performance, a long duration rover probably will be able to cover 500+ km,

a) Odometer distance isn't linear distance. Driving on unimproved terrain is twisty and wasteful. Even on nice smooth highways, there's a big difference between road distance and "as the crow flies".

b) A manned rover has other power-hungry things than the drive-motors. (Autonomous vehicles have their own unique power-demands, though I doubt even the most computationally intensive autopilot is as power hungry as a full ECLSS. Although some science equipment...)

c) If you want to explore areas away from the landing site, whether science or exploration or mineral assays, you need to do things other than drive in a straight line, you need to spend time around the target area. If you have to drive all the way out every morning and back every afternoon (before you lose light), that costs you a lot of time and severely limits the places you can work (and adds a lot of wear-miles to the vehicles, and the crew.) You want to have handy hubs out at critical sites so you can overnight the vehicles, but also not have to drag around the entire solar-battery infrastructure on the vehicle itself during the day.

Offline Paul451

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #22 on: 12/30/2018 09:41 pm »
That said, it might instead work the other way. Because it's awkward to operate without such way-stations, and initially you can't afford to bring in the extra mass, so you plan your bases around minimum travel, few vehicles. After that, you don't introduce any activities that require lots of travel, because you don't have way-stations, and no single activity is sufficient to justify them. But without that activity, you also don't have the "demand" to justify bringing in the hardware for way-stations (or even to be able to justify building them from scrap, when you have older component being upgraded and dumped.)

Online rakaydos

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #23 on: 12/30/2018 10:02 pm »
That said, it might instead work the other way. Because it's awkward to operate without such way-stations, and initially you can't afford to bring in the extra mass, so you plan your bases around minimum travel, few vehicles. After that, you don't introduce any activities that require lots of travel, because you don't have way-stations, and no single activity is sufficient to justify them. But without that activity, you also don't have the "demand" to justify bringing in the hardware for way-stations (or even to be able to justify building them from scrap, when you have older component being upgraded and dumped.)
Given that this frontier is being pushed by Elon "More intersting future for the human race" Musk, I suspect an executive decision would be made to expand operations.

It looks like we've got a rough archetecture, I'd love to see if we could get numbers on it.

Opportunity died when a sandstorm had a "tau" of greater than 8.0 (which I assume, from this page, means 80% blockage of solar power) and it could not keep it's electronics in operating range. That's a potential problem for an unattended power station, but as the solution is to just have more solar panels, I'd say that we just design in a baseline "survivable tau" of 9.0 or 9.5, preferably with a rover in minimum power mode also draining from the same panels.

How much power does the base station require to remain funtional over a martian night? how much power would a 5 ton rover need? (Paul had a point about not nessesarally using the Model S as an off the shelf component, but I suspect they'll go for a mars weight near the earth weight of the cars Elon is familiar with, which is plenty of mass for a rover)
« Last Edit: 12/30/2018 10:05 pm by rakaydos »

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #24 on: 12/30/2018 10:07 pm »
Similar to what Paul451 said,

I can see more uses for putting a portable powersupply at a site of interest away from the main base, so you don't have to trundle back 100km to the main base for a charge. You can live in your rovers for a couple of weeks so long as you have power.

Sites of interest could be future settlement or mine locations, and scientific sites to just learn more about the planet.

This would be similar to a way-station, but you might place more value on the ability to pack it all up and move on. Leaving it behind could also have uses. It could at least provide redundancy for further expeditions in the same direction. The cheaper and thinner our solar panels get, the more attractive it could become to just leave them at old sites rather than try to recover them.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #25 on: 12/31/2018 02:21 am »
Similar to what Paul451 said,

I can see more uses for putting a portable powersupply at a site of interest away from the main base, so you don't have to trundle back 100km to the main base for a charge. You can live in your rovers for a couple of weeks so long as you have power.

Sites of interest could be future settlement or mine locations, and scientific sites to just learn more about the planet.

I dream of a fleet of 8 or 10 rovers doing a full tour around the planet. One driver in the front rover the others following on autopilot. They need a few mobile waystations. Drive by night, do research and recharging by day. It needs solar panels that can quickly be rolled out and restored.

Edit: Fixed quotes
« Last Edit: 12/31/2018 02:22 am by guckyfan »

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #26 on: 12/31/2018 03:21 am »
I dream of a fleet of 8 or 10 rovers doing a full tour around the planet. One driver in the front rover the others following on autopilot. They need a few mobile waystations. Drive by night, do research and recharging by day. It needs solar panels that can quickly be rolled out and restored.

Edit: Fixed quotes

With robotic control perhaps you could have 4 rovers each with a gyrostabilised robotic arm, holding the corners of a really massive solar panel. Smaller rovers could do exploring.

There are no roads or trees etc, and not much wind. There are probably vast areas where a football-field sized formation could trundle along without obstruction.. and when there is obstruction, perhaps the two pairs of rovers could bunch up, rolling up the panel till they are merely a long thin train of solar panel.

(edit)
The idea might be easier to imagine with just two rovers, which could still also give you an impressive sized solar panel while driving. Also it is easier to imagine this ribbon tilting to follow the sun.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2018 03:26 am by KelvinZero »

Offline DistantTemple

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #27 on: 12/31/2018 02:01 pm »
I don't think that a solar powered waystation is very useful.
Given likely battery performance, a long duration rover probably will be able to cover 500+ km,

a) Odometer distance isn't linear distance. Driving on unimproved terrain is twisty and wasteful. Even on nice smooth highways, there's a big difference between road distance and "as the crow flies".

b) A manned rover has other power-hungry things than the drive-motors. (Autonomous vehicles have their own unique power-demands, though I doubt even the most computationally intensive autopilot is as power hungry as a full ECLSS. Although some science equipment...)

c) If you want to explore areas away from the landing site, whether science or exploration or mineral assays, you need to do things other than drive in a straight line, you need to spend time around the target area. If you have to drive all the way out every morning and back every afternoon (before you lose light), that costs you a lot of time and severely limits the places you can work (and adds a lot of wear-miles to the vehicles, and the crew.) You want to have handy hubs out at critical sites so you can overnight the vehicles, but also not have to drag around the entire solar-battery infrastructure on the vehicle itself during the day.

IMO Because anything other than very short distance travel will require a pressurised cab or mini HAB, missions will benefit by increasing the size and independence of such cabHABs there will be less pressure to design missions for hours of driving each way to return each night. The engineers/researchers take their home (and lab) with them. This will mean more larger habitable HABs where it is adequately comfortable to spend at least several days, with the benefit of less wear and tear, more time on location, less charging and use of energy, and less pressure for higher rate charging, and waystations etc.
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Offline Paul451

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #28 on: 12/31/2018 07:43 pm »
missions will benefit by increasing the size and independence of such cabHABs there will be less pressure to design missions for hours of driving each way to return each night. [...] less charging and use of energy, and less pressure for higher rate charging, and waystations etc.

Looking at space-stations and capsules, in cis-Earth space (higher insolation), life support and basic scientific equipment is pretty power-hungry. More than can be charged by simply covering the top of the pressurised volume. With half the energy available during the day, none overnight, you are going to need a decent area of coverage.

You could park during most of the day to roll out large panels, but you want to be mobile, doing Science! (Or assaying minerals for mining, or drilling for aquifers, or whatever.) Judging by the MER rovers, the optimal spot for charging isn't the optimal site for work. That lends itself to stand-alone charging stations which have lots of solar panels and extra batteries. And if you are returning to that site again, it seems pointless to have to roll up and pack away that charging station and drag the whole thing to the main base/settlement each time.

Similarly, you don't want to have to shut everything down between crew visits, instead you can run power cables from the deployed solar station to monitoring equipment, have a central charging station for small robotic vehicles. And that central hub lends itself to a larger satellite dish, giving higher bandwidth back to base (both for equipment-data and especially for teleop'ing rovers).



That adds another feature to a standard way-station. In addition to any satellite comms system, you want an antenna mast to increase line-of-sight relay across the local area. Which suggests way-stations would also be put on local high-spots to maximise (radio) visibility.
« Last Edit: 12/31/2018 07:58 pm by Paul451 »

Offline DistantTemple

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #29 on: 12/31/2018 08:23 pm »
Hi, yes that makes a lot of sense Paul451
Quote from: Paul451
You could park during most of the day to roll out large panels, but you want to be mobile, doing Science! (Or assaying minerals for mining, or drilling for aquifers, or whatever.) Judging by the MER rovers, the optimal spot for charging isn't the optimal site for work. That lends itself to stand-alone charging stations which have lots of solar panels and extra batteries. And if you are returning to that site again, it seems pointless to have to roll up and pack away that charging station and drag the whole thing to the main base/settlement each time.

A trailer waystation, that is taken out and installed close to a worksite for the duration would make sense. Each night you return to it and plug in. All the benefits of power, with solar arrays deployed for days or weeks, better comms, emergency O2 etc. And it would fit right in with living onsite for several days or more without long drives "home" every day. On a longer trip it could be hauled along even if the solar panels are only deployed every few days... depending on batteries.

Once a route is regularly used then I agree waystations could be left deployed. a bit like "bothes", hikers huts in Scotland!
We can always grow new new dendrites. Reach out and make connections and your world will burst with new insights. Then repose in consciousness.

Offline ThereIWas3

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #30 on: 12/31/2018 08:37 pm »
I don't think that typical range numbers for Tesla vehicles on Earth, on dry pavement at 1 G going 60 mph, are immediately useful on Mars, in sand and avoiding rocks, at 0.3 G going maybe 15 mph.
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Offline lamontagne

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Re: Designing a Solar Power Rover Waystation
« Reply #31 on: 01/08/2019 07:52 pm »
Here is my take on the solar way station.

It's basically the same design as the solar arrays used for the colony, but with a large battery pack.

It can be used to recharge vehicle moving over a semi prepared or prepared  road between colonies, or as a base camp for a few weeks/months of of base exploration at an interesting site.

The drill rig is used to characterize layers in depth for promising mining sites.