Science Seminars

Assessment of Wind Energy Resource Potential for Future Human Missions to Mars

Speaker: Victoria Hartwick, NASA Ames Research Center
Date: Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022
Time: 4:00 PM (NOTE: Tuesday, not Thursday)
Location: hybrid presentation will be held in W-120 as well as on Zoom

Seminar Abstract:

(Co-authors: Brian Toon, Julie Lundquist, Melinda Kahre, Olivia Pierpaoli)

Future human missions to Mars will require significant energy resource development that is stable over the mission duration. While solar and nuclear power represent the current state-of-the-art for robotic missions to Mars, wind energy has been largely ignored due to Mars low atmospheric density. However, new wind turbine technology is capable of extracting large amounts of energy even at very low wind speeds. Here we present a first assessment of the global wind energy resource potential utilizing a state-of-the-art Mars general circulation model (GCM). Simulated near surface wind speeds are adjusted based on air density and used as inputs for four wind turbines ranging from micro to industry-scale. We find that wind energy is particularly suited to act in complement with solar power. Wind turbines could represent a significant source of energy particularly at night, during the Mars dusty season, and along topographic slopes. Notably, high latitude landing sites close to subsurface water ice resources are made accessible by utilizing wind power in addition to solar and nuclear. Based on our analysis, we identify several potential regions of interest for future human missions.