Form a small team comprised of children and adults, design a robot, solve the challenge, and be part of the Google Lunar X PRIZE race to the Moon with LEGO® MINDSTORMS®
Target Age Group
Students will understand the advantages of using solar collectors in space.
You will need
100-watt bulb in simple desk light fixture, a piece of cloth or
paper (newspaper works well) that measures 1 sq. meter (1 meter = 1.094 yards), unsuspecting friends
What to do
1. Ask your friends to gather around. Darken the room. In a mysterious voice, tell them that you have a solution to Earth’s energy problems. A solution that is out of this world!!!!
2. Turn on the light and shine it into their eyes. (Don’t do this for very long or they will get annoyed and leave.) Discuss how bright that bulb is. Where do we get the energy to power that
3. Now hold up the 1 sq. meter newspaper and ask your friends, “How many 100-watts light bulbs could be powered by a solar panel this size orbiting the Earth and pointed at the Sun?” Collect all their guesses before giving them the answer (below).
4. Discuss Earth’s energy problems and why this would help. What would be the advantage of this type of power over a power plant on Earth?
What's Going On?
A 1-sq.-meter solar panel located on a satellite at Earth-Moon system distance from the Sun could power thirteen100-watt bulbs plus one 58-watt bulb. Clean solar energy can be sent from space to the Earth using solar collectors in high Earth orbit made from lunar materials. A single solar power satellite could power an Earth city without carbon dioxide or other pollution. Since these systems provide power at night, satellites could charge electric cars or generate hydrogen from water during off-peak times. Why don’t we do this now? Because of the extreme cost of getting material launched from Earth. But if, instead, we use material brought “downhill*” from the Moon, we could build such satellites more economically. *Click here for an animation of the gravity wells of the Earth and Moon. )
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