Solar Energy better than nuclear energy for travelling to Mars; according to scientists

Scientists at California University have claimed that solar energy could be a better source of fuel than nuclear energy, for crewed mission to Mars. The findings were published in a journal called Frontiers in Space Sciences and Astronomy. The researchers had compared various methods for power generation. For a mission of 6 people, the mass of the equipment, needed to be transported from our planet to the red planet, was taken into account. The compared quantity requirement of nuclear power system alongside solar powered and photoelectrochemical devices. The energy produced by nuclear fission was found to be location agnostic whereas productivity of solar based system depends on intensity, temperature and many other factors to determine the optimal location of the outpost. This needs accounting and modelling for numerous factors like how particles and gasses in atmosphere would absorb as well as scatter the light, thus affecting the intensity of solar power at Mars’ surface. The photovoltaic array which utilizes compressed hydrogen to store energy was found to be the most efficient. The mass of the solar array was 8.3 tons as compared to nuclear’s 9.5 tons, at the equator. The solar array system became less tenable when it got closer to equator, more than 22 tons but it beat out the fission energy across 50% of Mar’s surface. Solar shines out near to equator and nuclear shines out near to the poles.

This system is capable of employing electricity which can produce hydrogen by splitting water molecules. This Hydrogen can be easily stored inside pressurized vessels and re-electrified inside the fuel cells to generate power. Hydrogen is also used to make fertilizers when combined with nitrogen.

Other technologies like water electrolysis for the creation of hydrogen fuel can also be used on the planet Mars. Such systems are quite expensive to use on Earth, however on Mars it could be a different case. Everything would be needed to be shipped for a very high cost from the Earth.

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