Wind Energy to Provide Power on Mars

According to a new study published on Monday in Nature Astronomy, this vision of a wind-powered Mars base is not only feasible, but it could also open new locations on the Martian surface for exploration. The study looked at the viability of  wind turbines as an energy source for future Mars missions, and the findings suggest that wind power could be an important source of energy generation on Mars if humans can successfully land there in the coming decades.

Because Martian winds are extremely weak, scientists have generally written off wind power as a key energy source for Mars missions in favour of solar and nuclear power. According to the study, a team led by Victoria Hartwick, a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames Research Center, used global climate models of Mars to show that wind power represents a stable, sustained energy resource across large portions of the Mars surface, contrary to previous assumptions.

Winds blow from cooler surface ice deposits to warm regolith during the Northern Hemisphere winter, the researchers explained. This effect, analogous to a 'sea breeze', may be particularly important at proposed high-latitude sites adjacent to seasonal ice deposits. Annual average wind power exceeds available solar power by up to 3.4 times in several locations.

Many sites at these latitudes have been rejected due to solar energetic limitations during polar night, the researchers wrote. They demonstrate that if the availability of water outweighs other challenges, wind energy could act as the dominant energy source when solar energy is seasonally depleted, opening a large fraction of the polar landscape to human exploration. Similarly, wind energy resources are at their peak at night when solar energy is at its lowest.

According to the findings of the new study, wind power could expand exploration options for the Martian landscape and play an important role as a standalone or backup source of power on humanity's first interplanetary adventure. Wind energy generation is the key on earth and beyond!