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NASA Develops Better Airborne Wind Power System


NASA is developing an airborne wind-power system that is expected to be more efficient than land-based tower turbines.

The system has two components. One is a set of turbines attached to a kite that generates electricity. The other is a ground-based generator connected to the kite and powered by the kite’s motion.

The reeling phase of the kite allows it to use 10 percent less energy, making the system 90 percent efficient. Another advantage is the design of the wind turbine blades that allows it to spin faster and further from its hub; this configuration produces more electrical output.

The system is equipped with pattern recognition software similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. This can determine the position, orientation and speed of the kite. In addition, a flight-control program keeps the kite flying in a figure eight pattern.

NASA is asking permission to test their prototype, which has a wingspan of 10 feet. The ideal altitude for operating and testing airborne systems is calculated to be around 2000 feet.

If the system is successful, NASA also intends to use it on Mars and other planets.

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  1. I do hope the NASA engineers remember than the atmosphere on MARS is just a tiny fraction of what it is here – wind power is created by motion of the air mass itself and is therefore a system on MARS would only generate a tiny fraction of the power output that the same system would on earth – in other words, there is not enough air to make anything remotely cost effective on Mars.


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