Recharge satellite batteries utilizing a ground-based laser?

In summary, the conversation discusses the feasibility of using a ground-based laser to recharge a satellite's batteries. It is possible, but not practical due to the high power required and safety concerns. The topic of laser-powered satellites is also mentioned, with the general consensus being that they are only useful for specific high-power applications. The conversation also briefly touches on the Breakthrough Starshot initiative, with the speaker expressing skepticism about its success.
  • #1
Scott Ryals
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Is it feasible to recharge satellite's batteries utilizing a ground-based laser?
 
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  • #2
Not a bad question.

Most satellites have PV (solar) panels. You could certainly shine some light on them from a ground based laser. However, almost all of the laser's power would be dissipated as heat in the atmosphere. The real question is how powerful would the laser have to be to match the intensity of natural radiation from the sun shining on the panels?

I don't have a specific calculation for that, but I trust that since NASA does not use ground-based lasers to charge batteries, it is not an attractive option. (Danger to airplanes overhead are among the many secondary problems that contribute to attractiveness.)

Did you know that astronauts left a mirror on the moon? Experimenters can aim a laser at it, and detect the reflected beam coming back. That means a two-way trip through our atmosphere. But transmitting signals, and transmitting significant power are very different.
 
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  • #3
From the point of the internal photoelectric effect, yes it might be possible to transmit energy to the satelitte. But why should one? First of all, I think it's rather tricky to strike the satellite with the laser beam if it isn't geostationary. Next laser beam genration is rather inefficient. Besides that you have much attenuation of the laser power through scattering and absorption especially at rainy weather and of course, as anorlunda already wrote, there are many safty concernes. There it is more efficient to charge the satellite battery by harvesting the sun light.
 
  • #4
Any satellite around Earth has 1000+W/m2 radiation source at hand for free. It should be some very special circumstances if somebody want to compete in feasibility with 'free'.
 
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  • #5
Scott Ryals said:
Is it feasible to recharge satellite's batteries utilizing a ground-based laser?
Usually a reverse situation is considered (i.e. recharging a difficult-to-access ground equipment via satellite beam). For example, sensing network over dormant volcano kept powered by microwave beam, allowing operations beyond lifespan of batteries with small maintenance (because power satellite can service entire world, in sequence).
The laser-powered satellite is considered usually only if very high power to weight (~20 kW/kg) is required - the only related talk i can remember was about laser-powered upper stages, to slash the cost of launch. Normal solar panels are good enough up to 5 W/kg satellites.
 
  • #6
trurle said:
Usually a reverse situation is considered (i.e. recharging a difficult-to-access ground equipment via satellite beam). For example, sensing network over dormant volcano kept powered by microwave beam, allowing operations beyond lifespan of batteries with small maintenance (because power satellite can service entire world, in sequence).
The laser-powered satellite is considered usually only if very high power to weight (~20 kW/kg) is required - the only related talk i can remember was about laser-powered upper stages, to slash the cost of launch. Normal solar panels are good enough up to 5 W/kg satellites.

What are your thoughts regarding the Breakthrough Starshot initiative?
 
  • #7
Scott Ryals said:
What are your thoughts regarding the Breakthrough Starshot initiative?
It would be interesting from engineering and exploration perspective to try and see how it will fail. My estimation of chances of "breakthrough starshot" reaching another star and communicating back to Earth is 0.00%.

I was engaged few years ago in much less ambitious study of lightsail-craft reaching the orbit of Saturn. The material and communication challenges were enormous, and project was shelved waiting for better technology.
 
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Related to Recharge satellite batteries utilizing a ground-based laser?

1. How does recharging satellite batteries with a ground-based laser work?

The process of recharging satellite batteries with a ground-based laser involves using a high-power laser beam to transmit energy to the satellite's solar panels. This energy is then converted into electrical energy, which is used to charge the satellite's batteries.

2. Why is using a ground-based laser more efficient than traditional methods of recharging satellite batteries?

Using a ground-based laser to recharge satellite batteries is more efficient because it eliminates the need for physical contact with the satellite. This means that there is less energy loss during the transmission process, resulting in a more efficient and faster recharge.

3. What are the benefits of recharging satellite batteries with a ground-based laser?

There are several benefits to recharging satellite batteries with a ground-based laser. These include increased efficiency, reduced maintenance costs, and the ability to recharge satellites in orbit without the need for a physical connection.

4. Is recharging satellite batteries with a ground-based laser safe for the environment?

Yes, recharging satellite batteries with a ground-based laser is safe for the environment. The laser beam used is carefully directed and controlled, and there is no risk of harmful emissions or pollution. Additionally, this method reduces the need for launching new satellites, which can have a negative impact on the environment.

5. How long does it take to recharge a satellite's batteries using a ground-based laser?

The time it takes to recharge a satellite's batteries using a ground-based laser depends on the size and type of the satellite, as well as the strength of the laser beam. However, in general, it is a much faster process compared to traditional methods of recharging, taking only a few hours to fully recharge a satellite's batteries.

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