New study: Wind power will work on Mars. This is a game-changer.

Wind power on Mars makes it possible for any rover or other craft to collect power at the poles or other areas on the planet that don't get constant sunlight.

A small, lightweight wind turbine has been successfully tested in conditions that simulate the surface of Mars. 


Dubbed the Aarhus Wind Tunnel Simulator II, it was tested at Aarhus University in Denmark back in 2010, but the study results and details were presented at the Mars Workshop on Amazonian and Present Day Climate in Lakewood, CO last week.

"For now, we can say for the first time and with certainty, that, YES, you can use wind power on Mars!" the researchers, led by Christina Holstein-Rathlou of Boston University's Center for Space Physics, wrote in the study.

Mars' atmospheric conditions are notoriously dicey; the rover Curiosity just survived a hellish sand and windstorm that eventually kicked up over most of the planet's surface. 

But the conditions tested in the wind tunnel mimic the far northern area of the planet, where winds don’t go above 35 km/hr.

"The optimal locations for this type of power production are areas where the sun doesn't always shine, but winds will blow, such as latitudes poleward of the polar circles," the researchers wrote.


In this artist's illustration, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander begins to shut down operations as winter sets in. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

The goal is to develop the ability for a small lander to be self-powered without (or perhaps in addition to) solar, so it could be deployed in areas that don’t catch sunlight during certain parts of the year, such as at both of the poles on the red planet.

The nature of Mars missions so far have meant larger craft won’t suffice; since this was tested in 2010, everything has become smaller in size to the point where, using similar but much more compact equipment and technology than the device tested, development of wind power equipment is now quite doable—especially with batteries to store the power.

Stand up against religious discrimination – even if it’s not your religion

As religious diversity increases in the United States, we must learn to channel religious identity into interfaith cooperation.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Religious diversity is the norm in American life, and that diversity is only increasing, says Eboo Patel.
  • Using the most painful moment of his life as a lesson, Eboo Patel explains why it's crucial to be positive and proactive about engaging religious identity towards interfaith cooperation.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Moon landing astronauts reveal they possibly infected Earth with space germs

Two Apollo 11 astronauts question NASA's planetary safety procedures.

Credit: Bettmann, Getty Images.
Surprising Science
  • Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins revealed that there were deficiencies in NASA's safety procedures following the Apollo 11 mission.
  • Moon landing astronauts were quarantined for 21 days.
  • Earth could be contaminated with lunar bacteria.
Keep reading Show less

NASA's idea for making food from thin air just became a reality — it could feed billions

Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.

Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
  • Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
  • The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Keep reading Show less

Where the evidence of fake news is really hiding

When it comes to sniffing out whether a source is credible or not, even journalists can sometimes take the wrong approach.

Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • We all think that we're competent consumers of news media, but the research shows that even journalists struggle with identifying fact from fiction.
  • When judging whether a piece of media is true or not, most of us focus too much on the source itself. Knowledge has a context, and it's important to look at that context when trying to validate a source.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less