Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Solar Wind Turbine

Just because the light decreases doesn't mean the wind does
  [vote for,

Got the inspiration from Vernon.

Once you get past Jupiter your yield from solar light diminishes quite rapidly. However, as recent activity has shown. The solar wind is still quite powerful. Even beyond the suns sphere of influence there are streams of particles.

Instead of a solar sail to take you to far off places why not trail behind a solar pinwheel turbine for your energy consumption. It only needs to be less than a mile wide. Deep Space 1 has proven that even a slight force in one direction is beneficial.

sartep, Nov 11 2003

SW info http://genesismissi...SolarWind-ST-PO.pdf
the nasa page with the typo [my-nep, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       Hmmmm. What stops it blowing away?
st3f, Nov 11 2003

       I don't think the idea is for Earth consumption, but generating power for spacecraft. As the solar wind blows the sail, it spins generating electricity for the craft and propelling the craft away from the Sun.
phoenix, Nov 11 2003

       But eventually your ship will be going the same speed as the wind. What then?
Worldgineer, Nov 11 2003

       Then it will be time to dance.
krelnik, Nov 11 2003

       Then +. I love it when it's time to dance. Just make sure you bring batteries for the stereo and disco lights.
Worldgineer, Nov 11 2003

       Yes, it is for space stations and exclusive ultra-chic discotechs.
sartep, Nov 11 2003

       I was thinking the same as Worldgineer while reading, but I do agree this would be a very good source of power for orbiting probes and other things in deep space that aren't moving faster than the solar wind. This could be used as a power source for satelites in the near future in deep space where photo cells do not work. This I believe is genious in idea and could prove a good alternative to the current nuclear thermocouple reactors.
JoeLounsbury, Nov 11 2003

       You can tell I have more experience with space stations over discotheques.   

       Thanks, Joe.
sartep, Nov 11 2003

       This sounds to me analogous to a ship with a big windmill mounted aboard, which generates electricity to power a motor. If you want to translate wind energy into motive force, it is inefficient to turn it into electricity first. You would get more umph by fixing the rotors in place and using the windmill as a sail. There is no reason you couldn't have a small windmill _and_ a sail - you could use electricity from the windmill to power the fridge and keep beer cold - or run life support if out in the Kuiper belt.
bungston, Nov 11 2003

       I expect the wind mills to be less massive than the station and superconducting magnets running across each other shouldn't be too hard to ask for in the depths of the stellasphere.
sartep, Nov 12 2003

       Nah, [human]'s right - no matter how nice the bearings are you'll eventually be spinning. Luckily, this is easily solved by using two windmills that spin in opposite directions.
Worldgineer, Nov 12 2003

       I know I'm being pedantic but your windmills are missing the 'mill' bit (unless you are intending to promote flour production in space). Can you please call them wind turbines as sartep was careful enough to do.   

       Aaah that feels better, I'm off to write a strongly worded letter of complaint to the local council about the 1mm deviation in the straightness of the road markings outside my house.
dobtabulous, Nov 12 2003

       American Heritage Dictionary: A machine that runs on the energy generated by a wheel of adjustable blades or slats rotated by the wind.   

       I grabbed this definition to show that you don't need grain to have a windmill, but will instead point out that the thing I use to blend margaritas is a windmill if there is a wind turbine connected to the grid.
Worldgineer, Nov 12 2003

       I guess I stand corrected Worldgineer. Shame - I was looking forward to a nice loaf of space-bread. <note to JoeLounsbury> please don't post an idea for space-bread </note to JoeLounsbury>
dobtabulous, Nov 12 2003

       How long will a nuclear power source last on e.g. a space probe? Still this would possibly have the advantage of cost and definately have the advantage of not attatching radioactive stuff to rockets that sometimes go wrong.   

       I like. +.
RobertKidney, Nov 12 2003

       [ World engineer ] NASA says ( at least in an article ) that the solar wind goes 300-700 thousand kilometers per second. But that's a typo ( faster than light particals? ). Still, you'd hit the heiliopause before you got to that speed. Oh, here's the link to the soalar wind info from NASA.
my-nep, Nov 12 2003

       [ sartep ] Acctualy, the solar wind, like the light, decreses as the inverse of squre distance ( 1D=1lite, 2D=1/4lite...) plus, it has colisions and ( since it goes slower ( more time for gravity to act ) ) gravity slows it down more.
my-nep, Nov 12 2003

       It does decrease but there are places beyond in the Galaxy where it streams. And the galactic poles in either south or north, a thousand parsecs, that's good charged particles right there.   

       Sorry, I didn't mention that there would be multiple pinwheels on this thing. Yes, World, there will be a way of making frozen drinks in the depths of space, however, you still have to look cool enough to get past the bouncers.   

       Thanks, my-nep for the link.
sartep, Nov 13 2003


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