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Clean, full power exploration robots

Exploration robot solar cells get dusty and need cleaning
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Problem: Robots are sent to planets and moons for surface exploration. The robots are often powered by solar cells. The solar cells collect dust over time, blocking the sun and reducing or eliminating the robot's energy source.

Suggestion: Cover the solar panels with clear, climate proof "tear off" sheets. As one sheet is covered with dust, the robot sample collector arm would reach to the tear off sheet pull tab, pull off the dusty sheet and expose a new clean tear off.

"Tear off" sheets are currently used on motorcycle racing helments and racing car windshields to allow an easy, quick way to clean the racer's viewing area.

Sunstone, Nov 10 2005

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       Good thinking. It’s better than waiting for a dust devil to come by.
Shz, Nov 10 2005
  

       Excellent! What a great cross application. I hope you NASA folks are reading this.
bungston, Nov 10 2005
  

       Ditto. +   

       Theirs a limit of tear of sheets though! :-( I think you should use a windscreen wiper to clean the solar panles! :-) Good thorght Though
Flying Doom Squid, Aug 22 2007
  

       You could have a mummy robot that spits on a tissue and wipes the dirt off.
marklar, Aug 22 2007
  

       ... or uses one of its bandages.
pertinax, Aug 23 2007
  

       A while back, I came up with a similar solution to a similar problem; namely micrometeorites wearing out solar panels on orbiting craft, after realising that tear-off sheets are a limited supply.
Essentially, the cover material is a thermoplastic sheet, held between two rollers which slowly rotate to pull the sheet across.
At the collecting end, the plastic is melted, filtered, and piped back to the other end, where it is reformed and cooled back into sheet form, ready to continue on through the system.
Assuming the filtering can be done in a non-consumable way (eg. centrifuge or something, instead of a filter that needs replacing), this system would keep your spacecraft panels/windows/whatever clear for a very long time (maintenance is always an issue with any long-term mechanical system, so I'm conveniently ignoring it...)
neutrinos_shadow, Aug 24 2007
  
      
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