A few weeks ago, a team of scientists from Caltech announced that they had successfully transmitted energy from an orbiting satellite down to Earth. It wasn’t a lot of energy, but it showed that it was possible.
Eventually, we might be able to beam energy from solar satellites down to Earth, making solar energy available almost anywhere and helping combat climate change. But there’s another potential use: powering surface probes on Venus.
Power beaming is one of those technologies that can completely change the world. Almost unlimited power wherever it is needed, whenever it’s needed, is literally a technology straight out of science fiction. Researchers have been working on the technology for decades at this point, but there has been little commercial headway so far, so what is holding this revolutionary technology up? A “killer app” would certainly help move it along – and that is what a team from Space Power, a private company, and the University of Surrey think they have found in the form of powering other microsatellites.
Solar power has become a focal point of the battle to mitigate climate change. The potential of solar power is massive – Earth receives as much solar energy in an hour as all of humanity uses in a year. Even with that much energy hitting the Earth, it is only a tiny fraction of the sun’s overall output. Some of that other solar energy hits other planets, but most is just lost to the void of deep space.
There are a number of groups that are leveraging various technologies to capture some of that lost energy. One of the most common technologies being pursued is the idea of the power satellite. Recently, one of those groups at America’s Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) hit a milestone in the development of power satellite technology by launching their Photovoltaic RF Antenna Module (PRAM) test satellite.