Solar Arrays with Variable Panel Elevations for the Moon Village



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The Moon Village master plan by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and the European Space Agency is a concept for a permanent human settlement near the lunar South Pole, on the rim of Shackleton Crater. The project location has been determined to receive nearly continuous sunlight throughout the lunar year, offering the potential for nearly continuous solar power generation. One challenge, however, is that the Sun remains near the horizon during the lunar daily cycle. For an array of several solar panels deployed in a ground area, panels currently facing the Sun would cast long shadows, possibly occluding other panels behind. A previous study by the authors identified favorable spatial configurations of vertically-oriented solar panels which increased the average exposed total panel area while minimizing the number of panels or total panel area. One simplifying assumption was the use of panels at the same elevation in each array. Using panels with different elevations, however, offers the possibility of increasing solar panel exposure for a given ground deployment area. The previous study is therefore extended in this paper by studying arrays with panels that can have different fixed or actuated elevations, in order to find favorable configurations to increase average solar exposure during a simulated lunar day. Two automatic panel control strategies are proposed for circular array configurations: Automatic Elevation Control makes is possible to achieve maximum panel exposure using two elevation levels, while Automatic Angle Adjustment (AAA) addresses the problem of partial panel shading by rotating some panels away from the solar incidence angle in order to avoid shadowing from other panels. In one example, AAA provides up to a 45% increase in the exposed area of unshaded panels compared with each panel facing the Sun at a perpendicular angle.


Eric Halbach, Cydonia
Daniel Inocente Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Neil Katz Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Georgi I. Petrov Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
ICES502: Space Architecture
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Moon Village, lunar settlement, Lunar South Pole, solar power, solar array, solar panel, simulation