The United States Navy Research Laboratory has unveiled two modules they are testing to capture solar energy from space and divert its power to earth. The two designs would use reflectors to concentrate sunlight to a satellite that would project the power to a receiver on the earth’s surface. If the plans are approved, the components would be assembled in space by a team of robots.

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The futuristic plans headed by Dr. Paul Jaffe comprise two different designs that could create enough solar energy to power a city or a military plant. The first is a sandwich module that keeps electrical components between one enormous square photovoltaic panel that faces the sun and a square base with an extending antenna that directs the powered collected toward the earth. The electronic system in the center transforms the collected solar energy into radio frequency that can be easily beamed to the receiver.

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Jaffe’s second model, which opens up the sandwich design, would be more effective. The zig-zag shaped module has more surface area that extends into a step design to collect more power from the sun, making it more energy efficient. The panels would receive more sunlight without overheating, making the design safer, as well as producing more energy to be directed by the antenna in radio waves. Although Jaffe has tested models of these designs in a space-like chamber, the actual designs would be a kilometer in diameter. The NRL is currently exploring launching Jaffe’s design, either in space or high in the stratosphere.

Via Daily Mail

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