• Home
  • Current congress
  • Public Website
  • My papers
  • root
  • browse
  • IAC-08
  • A3
  • I
  • paper
  • Wind Energy for Electric Power Generation on Mars and Other Planets

    Paper number



    Ms. Elizabeth Jens, Australia


    Prof. Lachlan Thompson, RMIT University, Australia, Australia



    Remote extraterrestrial experiments performed to date have been powered by solar energy. The extreme distance of Mars from the Sun pushes the viability of solar electric power. The weak solar rays arriving on Mars make solar panels less viable due to their susceptibility to the severe dust storms which can rage across the planet for months at a time. This paper provides an alternate viable solution to this problem by evaluating the efficacy of harnessing wind energy to power remote installations. Although developed specifically for use on Mars, the technology is transferable to other extraterrestrial planets and moons that have an atmosphere and where conditions inhibit the use of solar energy. A meta-analysis of existing publications investigating Martian atmospheric conditions provided a theoretical model which was used as the framework for the operating conditions of a vertical axis wind turbine. 
    After exploration of existing wind and ocean turbine technologies, vertical axis wind turbine design theory was applied and developed for use on Mars. Recent advances in earth based wind turbine and electric generator design and materials technology have facilitated the consideration of a wind turbine to meet the power requirements for a human occupied Mars base.  The efficiency and mass of the wind turbine verses mean power output for a typical Martian year are presented compared with mass and efficiency curves for solar panels of equivalent power output are presented. Methods of deployment and autonomous operation were investigated with the most suitable system being selected for wind tunnel tests... A prototype of the vertical axis wind turbine design was subsequently prepared and tested to determine its viability for providing sustainable power throughout a Martian wind storm. Consideration was given to the volatile nature of the Martian climate as well as to the ease of deployment, storage, and transport of the vertical axis wind turbine system. The vertical axis wind turbine design allowed the use of an innovative deployment technique which facilitated low launch mass and volume. Research shows that the vertical axis wind turbine system to be successful when used in combination with a solar power generator and thereby provide a more robust and reliable energy source for use in Martian exploration.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-08.A3.I.18.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.