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Iapetan piezoelectric generator and heat pump

Harness the energy of Saturn's G ring
  [vote for,

I can't currently envisage how this idea could be useful in the foreseeable future.

Phoebe orbits the other way to Iapetus, so things from Phoebe hit it hard. Iapetus has a dark and light side as Phoebe sheds darker matter onto it. This gunk, shed from a moon going the other way, must orbit the other way, so it gets there at six and a bit kps. Also, the dark surface of Iapetus must get hotter than the light when sunlit.

So, my idea is as follows. Put piezoelectric crystals on the darker side of Iapetus and heat pumps near the edge of the dark area. Mass will rain down onto them, bending them and generating an electrical current. Meanwhile, as the dark surface warms and the light cools, when the dark side faces the Sun, the temperature difference can be used to generate heat by equalising that temperature, using some kind of heat engine.

A bit of calculation shows that a kilo of matter hits the surface with an energy of six and a bit kilojoules. As to the heat difference, i have no idea. I also have no idea how much of Phoebe's gunk hits Iapetus. However, it seems clear to me that there's a potentially useful energy source there, and that similar processes may be taking place elsewhere in the solar system.

nineteenthly, Mar 16 2012


       Perhaps we should stick with just plain old solar panels on the moon, or nuclear power, on someone else's planet.
PainOCommonSense, Mar 16 2012

       The Saturn system already has nuclear power, donated by Earth.
nineteenthly, Mar 16 2012

       You're probably right (I assume this to be some sort of soviet nuclear powered plutonium dioxide satellite crashed into Saturn), anyway I should point out that in its core could also probably be described as having nuclear power. Presumably given the gravity, this is pretty intense?
PainOCommonSense, Mar 16 2012

       I don't think it's massive enough. It has some interesting electrical stuff going on though, and as far as what i suggested with Iapetus is concerned, other satellites in the system have possibly exploitable features. For instance, Janus and Epimetheus are co-orbital, so they presumably have some kind of tidal effects, and Enceladus also sheds particles, possibly from its cryovolcanism, into the E Ring.   

       I had the Cassini probe in mind, but Huygens probably also has nuclear heating.
nineteenthly, Mar 16 2012


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