Solar Array Configurations for the Moon Village



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


The Moon Village master plan is an architectural concept for a sustainable, international human outpost on the rim of Shackleton Crater near the lunar South Pole. This site receives nearly continuous sunlight throughout the lunar year, providing a clear benefit for human psychological needs and technically, as it can greatly contribute to solar power generation. In general, a solar panel would need to be oriented vertically, facing the horizon, while rotating 360° to track the Sun, which varies in elevation angle by only some +/-1.5° at the proposed location. To support a growing settlement, an array of several panels could be installed within a ground area. This faces the problem, however, that panels currently exposed to the Sun may occlude those behind, lowering the total exposure and making some configurations ineffective if many panels remain highly occluded. This problem was studied by comparing the simulated exposure of various array configurations during a lunar daily cycle. First ground spacing was considered for arrays of 2 to 5 panels. Mean total exposure was found to increase by up to 66% if the array's circular ground area diameter was increased to three times the minimum, while the actual array configuration had a small effect. For predefined square ground areas, several versions of six array types were tested. For smaller numbers of wider panels, several configurations offered similar mean exposures. Filling the available area with more, narrower panels could result in a gradual increase in mean exposure, or a decrease due to more gaps between panels. The Arrow array achieved ~96% of the available mean exposure using the least total panel area, while the X-array provided similar mean and full minimum exposure using the least panel area. Hexagonal configurations provided ~98% of the available mean, and the full minimum, using more panel area.


Eric Halbach, Cydonia, FI
Daniel Inocente, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, US
Max Haney, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, US
Neil Katz, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, US
Georgi I. Petrov, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, US
ICES502: Space Architecture
The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.


Moon village, Lunar south pole, Lunar outpost, Solar power, Solar array, Simulation