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U.S. Navy Tests Solar Power Beaming Technology

ISS_power_beaming_demoBy Dr. Marc Kodack

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is developing technologies designed to capture solar power in space, directly by an orbiting satellite, and beaming that captured power back to Earth. One of those technologies is the Photovoltaic RF Antenna Module (PRAM) satellite launched in May 2020 aboard the U.S. Air Force’s experimental orbital aircraft, the X-37B. Power beaming uses different light frequencies to wirelessly transmit power to a receiver. NRL previously tested a land-based system using an infrared laser whose 400 watts of direct current was wirelessly captured by photovoltaic cells tuned to the laser’s wavelengths over a distance of 325 meters. The collected satellite data will be also be compared to existing data from the land-based experiment. (more…)

Polar Vortex: Preparedness Not Finger-Pointing

800px-PolarvortexwinterThere has been a lot of discussion about the recent polar vortex that swept through most of the United States. A fair amount of this discussion has been a somewhat “heated” conversation about what it means for climate change. In fact, this is the same discussion the country has during almost every major weather event. (more…)

A Satellite Gap May Be Coming

FCW just ran a worrying piece on the very high possibility of a “gap” in the United States’ weather observation systems that may last as long as 17 months. This is due to a number of reasons, including aging satellites and a replacement program that came up short on funds, and disbanded. According to David Powner, director of IT management issues for the Government Accountability Office, “potential contingency plans could include a combination of utilizing European satellite data, a deal with the DOD to harness its satellite data, or increased ground-based observational data…”

In the wake of the recent disaster, and given climate projections that foresee an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, this is a problem that should be of the highest priority for U.S. national security planners.

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