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Andre Vltchek, based leftie and journalist. Some excerpts from articles a recently deceased Comrade.

Hello, Comrades.
Yesterday I came across a post where I was informed that Andre Vltchek, a communist comrade, respected investigative journalist, filmmaker, author, and philosopher had recently passed away.
I was recommended some articles from him by another user and was impressed by his take on various issues, and thought that I would honor him by making a post here by showing some excerpts from two of his articles to you guys.
Why is China Painted as “Capitalist” by Western Propaganda?
To call China ‘capitalist’ is to smear China. It is as if to say: “Chinese people are precisely like us. China is doing to the world the same injustice, committing the same crimes as we have been doing for 500+ years.”
Western, but particularly the British and the U.S. demagogy, have managed to reach ‘heights’ of nothing lesser than deadly perfection. They already conditioned billions of brains, in all corners of the world, forced them into the uniformed, servile way of thinking. All this is not just propaganda anymore; it is the true art of indoctrination. It hardly ever misses its target. And even if it fails to convince some strong individuals completely, it always leaves a mark on the psyche of even those who are struggling to be different and ‘independent.’
All those terms like “capitalist China,” “Chinese state capitalism,” are violating the truth, and they are repeated over and over again until no one dares to contradict them anymore.
The same goes for the lies about Uyghurs, Hong Kong, the Sino-Indian border, as well as various historical events.
But why really lie about China ‘not being socialist’?
Imperialist, capitalist West cannot compete with socialism, anymore. Therefore, it tries to drag it through filth, tries to destroy it. Either indirectly, by sanctions and attempts to orchestrate coups in places like Iran, DPRK, Bolivia, Cuba, and Venezuela, or directly, like in the Middle East. China is being attacked on ‘all fronts,’ from economic ones to ideological, although not yet militarily. The most powerful and repulsive weapon, so far, has been constant injections of lies, contradictions, and nihilism. Just look at Hong Kong!
But China is not a capitalist country, as it is not an imperialist one. It is the least expansionist major country on the Planet.
It does not kill millions of human beings worldwide, it does not overthrow governments in foreign countries, and it is not robbing already destitute nations of all they have left.
It is not governed by bankers and oligarchs. Instead, it is directed by the socialist 5-year plans. Its private and state companies have to obey the government and the people. They have to produce goods and services in order to improve the standard of living of the nation and the world. Companies are precisely told what to do by the government, which represents the people, not the other way around, as happens in the West. Because in the West, it is companies that are selecting the governments!
That is socialism. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” The socialism which managed to get rid of all extreme poverty in the country with almost 1.4 billion inhabitants. The socialism which is building “Ecological civilization”. The socialism which is connecting the world, including, until now, the destitute countries on Earth, through the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
And rest assured that socialist China will be doing better and better. Yes, you are guessing correctly: Under the banner of the Communist Party!
Why I Am a Communist!
Am I a Leninist, a Maoist, or a Trotskyist? Do I subscribe to the Soviet or the Chinese model?
Honestly, I have no idea! Frankly, I don’t care much for those nuances.
To me personally, a true Communist is a fighter against imperialism, racism, ‘Western exceptionism’, colonialism and neo-colonialism. He or she is a determined Internationalist, a person who believes in equality and social justice for all people on this Earth.
I saw the Empire forcing countries into bestial civil wars; wars sparked so the multi-national companies could comfortably loot. I saw millions of refugees from once proud and wealthy (or from potentially wealthy) countries that were ruined by the West: Congolese refugees, Somali refugees, Libyan and Syrian refugees, refugees from Afghanistan… I saw inhuman conditions in factories that looked like purgatories; I saw monstrous sweatshops, mines, and fields near feudally run villages. I saw hamlets and townships, where the entire population vanished – dead from hunger, diseases, or both.
I also spent days and days listening to shocking testimonies of victims of torture. I spoke to mothers who lost their children, to wives who lost husbands, to husbands whose wives and daughters were raped in front of their eyes.
And the more I saw, the more I witnessed, the more shocking the stories I heard; the more obliged I felt to take sides, to fight for what I believe could be a much better world.
I believe that a writer cannot be ‘neutral’ or apolitical. If he is, then he is a coward. Or he is a liar.
And I believe that living and struggling for others is much more fulfilling than living only for one’s own selfish interests and pleasures.
To me, to be a true Communist means this: to be engaged in the constant fight against the incessant rape of human brains, bodies and dignity, against the plunder of resources and nature, against selfishness and consequent intellectual and emotional emptiness.
I don’t care under which flag it is done – red with the hammer and sickle, or red with several yellow stars. I’m fine with either of them, as long as the people holding those banners are honest and concerned with the fate of humanity and our Planet.
Before passing away, the great Uruguayan writer and revolutionary, Eduardo Galeano, told me: “Soon the time will come, and the world will erect old banners again!”
It is happening now! In Latin America, Africa and Asia, in almost all parts of the former Soviet Union and in China, people are demanding more Communism, not less. They don’t always call Communism by its name, but they are crying for its essence: freedom and solidarity, passion, fervor, courage to change the world, equality, justice and internationalism.
I have no doubt that we will win. But I also suspect that before we do, the Empire will bathe entire continents in blood. Desire of Westerners to rule and to control is pathological. They are ready to murder millions of those who are unwilling to fall on their knees. They already murdered hundreds of millions, throughout the centuries. And they will sacrifice millions more.
But this time, they will be stopped.
I believe it, and shoulder-to-shoulder with others, I am working day and night to make it happen.
Because it is my duty…
Because I’m a Communist!
submitted by stonedshrimp to GenZedong

Estimating what building a 1-10 MW Solar Park on Mars would involve.


I thought it'd be interesting to get an estimate of what kind of challenge would be involved in developing, delivering and deploying a solar park at 45 N on Mars, which would generate the kind of power suggested by Elon Musk in the recent tweet.
I will attempt to stick to real world products or which can be readily engineered (no breakthroughs required) and I will attempt to err on the side of being conservative.
It should go without saying that this is entirely hypothetical and SpaceX might do something almost completely different. I hope only for a result that is in the right ballpark in terms of payload and deployment time. Like it's helpful to get an idea of what we are looking at: Multiple Starships crammed full of solar panels? Or a small fraction of the payload capacity of a single Starship?


  • Payload mass: 11 t
  • Payload volume: 225 m3
  • Deployment time: 2-3 weeks for 4 astronauts.

The Requirements

For the 10 MW nominal capacity I am assuming "A solar park that would be labelled as 10 MW if it were on Earth", the nominal capacity of a solar panel and generally the generation capacity of a solar power plant is referenced to 1000 W of sunlight on Earth and disregards any pesky reality like night time or clouds, this way of rating a solar powerplant is often complained about but it is both convenient and conventional.
The general consensus on /spacex is that a propellant plant for refueling one Starship per synod (and providing life support for humans on the side) would consume on average 1 MW, it so happens that 10 MW nominal capacity is roughly the same as 1 MW real world generation on Mars: sunlight on Mars is about 50% as intense as at the surface of Earth, 50% of the time it is dark, 30% of the power during the day is lost due to sub-optimal sun angle, 20% is lost due to latitude and seasons, 25% is lost to dust in the sky and dust on the panels. The product of these factors is around 0.1. FWIW for single-axis tracking solar panels it's about 0.135 and for dual-axis tracking about 0.145, but for this analysis I assume fixed-tilt.
So in summary, this solar park is 10 MW nominal, 1 MW actual average generation.

Why fixed tilt

Just rolling the solar panels out on the ground is tempting, as it allows using large rolls of flexible solar panel.
The reason I'm not assuming horizontal panels is primarily one of latitude: The planned latitude for the base appears to be around 45 N. And Mars has an axial tilt of 25 degrees - which is almost the same as Earth's. If you live at around 45 N (or 45 S) on Earth you'll have a pretty good idea of how low in the sky the sun is during winter, in fact the sun will rise just around 20 degrees above the horizon. A fixed tilt panel at least doubles generation during winter and also increases it throughout the rest of the year. The exact tilt to use, assuming it is non-adjustable, can be optimized to maximize power generation over a year (essentially maximizing the generation from long summer days), or to maximize winter generation, or a compromise. A tilt which is equal to the latitude (i.e. 45 degrees) tends to be a reasonable compromise.
Fixed tilt also ought to reduce dust accumulation, some dust will stick due to electrostatic forces but it does stand to reason that a tilted panel will accumulate less dust than a horizontal panel and be easier for the wind to clean.
Furthermore, according to my analysis going with fixed tilt does not incur a large mass penalty compared with flat panels and the deployment time is longer but still reasonable.
Single or dual axis tracking is outside the scope of this analysis, I don't believe the mass penalty for single-axis tracking would be prohibitive, but it is another point of failure and complexity and the efficiency improvement isn't as great as the difference between horizontal and fixed tilt.

The Solar Panels

The solar panels will almost certainly be custom-built, though they will come closest to panels used on high altitude balloons and solar-powered aircraft, which have very similiar requirements in terms of needing to be lightweight, UV resistant and cold-tolerant.
A custom build makes sense because in many ways the martian environment is much less severe than Earth. The gravity is only 38% as strong, the wind is only about 2% as strong, snow is not a factor at mid latitudes and hail and blown debris are also not hazards, Earth's atmosphere will also cheerfully throw around sand and even small gravel whereas martian winds are restricted to fine dust or very light sand, on Mars there is no rain altough there might be very small amounts of condensation. There is also no wildlife to contend with, such as ants getting into the electronics, birds pooping on the panels creating hot spots, rodents chewing through wiring, cows rubbing against panels mounted in a field and so on. There is also no need to protect humans from electrocution as no-one will be installing them with bare hands on Mars. Basically there is no point using panels engineered to withstand everything Earth can throw at them, when most those hazards don't exist at all on Mars or are an order of magnitude less severe.
The thin atmosphere of Mars is also sufficient for burning up micrometeorites or at least slowing them to a terminal velocity of tens to hundreds of m/s, and these arrays do not require a reliable self-deploying ability - a system which mostly works with a big of nudging from an astronaut is fine.

A note about wind and gravity

On Mars the atmosphere is about 1.6% as dense as Earth's and the gravity is 38% as strong, rovesatellite measurements suggest the wind speeds are about the same on both planets (though our data is very limited for Mars). When these factors are combined, Mars wind has around 4.2% of the "lofting power" as Earth wind. Basically if the wind can pick something up or blow it over on Earth, on Mars it could do the same to something which has 1/20th the mass: knowing what Earth winds can pick up and toss around, this should be of some concern.
However if the force opposing the wind is not gravity, but is instead say mechanical fixtures, it can have around 1/60th the strength without the wind tearing it free.
On sum, martian winds would be of no threat to anything built for Earthly conditions, but might nevertheless be a limiting factor in how lightly things can be constructed for Mars - in this case it does not appear to be a serious limitation.


For the purposes of this analysis I am inventing a panel composition since I do not believe any commercial solar module is appropriate. Whether or not my invention is appropriate a new kind of solar array has to be developed which is optimized for Martian conditions and this presents one of the challenges involved, however no breakthroughs are required, merely the application of already existing technology.
I am basing the solar cells are based on thin-film cells massing in at 60 grams/m2, using the commercial Flisom CIGS eFilm for reference, which are 60 g/m2 and generate 140 W/m2 nominal (14% efficient - I'm using 14% as it's the highest claimed in the datasheet and is reasonable for production - not lab - thin film cells). CIGS cells are radiation tolerant and have a broad spectral response (including being unusually efficient at utilizing red light) which should make them effective under a range of lighting conditions on Mars, including the scattered, reddened light during dust storms.
The basic solar film is reinforced on the back by a 20 g/m2 layer of UHMWPE which provides additional strength, electrical insulation and a measure of resistance to physical damage such as a jagged rock tearing the panel during deployment.
On the front it is protected from UV and dust abrasion by a 20 g/m2 transparent layer such as FEP. This layer also hopefully provides some dust-repellant (antistick and antistatic) properties to reduce the tendency of dust to stick to the panel - it's not critical but would be nice to have. This layer might be optional, depending on how resilient the basic cells are and the need for electrical insulation to avoid arcing/short-circuiting.
To be tilted the panel has to have a measure of stiffness. This could be accomplished, by corrugation sandwich (like corrugated plastic sheet), foam, or lightweight tubes comparable to tent poles creating a rigid frame across which the panel is stretched. To provide the tilt, supports are required that would fold out, these supports would be triangles of tubes/rods or triangular panels. Contextually it would make sense to use advanced materials such as carbon fiber for these to maximize the stiffness to mass ratio and minimize the required thickness. My estimate is that a thickness of around 3 mm would provide the required stiffness for the panel and the required volume for the fold-out legs and the added mass would be about 40 g/m2. To get an intuition, you can get corrugated cardboard which is 3 mm thick and weighs 125 g/m2, even a fairly large piece of such cardboard is stiff enough to hold its shape against Earth's gravity.
Finally some wiring and connectors add 10 g/m2.
The final mass of the panel comes to 150 g/m2 and it has a thickness of 3 mm, most of which is empty space.

Flat-packed Array

Each individual panel is 2 m tall and 1.2 m wide and multiple panels are joined together (probably using living hinges) into an accordian-style folded stack of 30 panels, the panels within each such array are pre-wired together and the array has a connection point at the end for plugging into the grid.
So each array is 36 m long and has a surface area of 72 m, a nominal capacity of 10 kW and a true capacity of 1 kW.
Each array masses 11 kg (weighs 4 kg in martian gravity) and when folded up is 90 mm thick and takes up a volume of 0.225 m3.
As a side note, in some of SpaceX's concept art there are very long rectangular solar arrays

Packing and unloading

The 10 MW solar park requires 1000 arrays which take up 11 t of payload mass (out of 100-150 t) and 225 m3 of payload volume (out of 1100 m3), they are rather low density so take up a disproportionate volume so would have to be matched with higher-density payloads such as batteries and bulk supplies.
The folded arrays are stored on pallets in stacks of 20 making the stack 1.8 m tall. A pallet masses 220 kg (84 kg in martian gravity). Either an astronaut with a pallet trolly or a forklift is used to wrangle pallets onto the external cargo lift (as shown in Paul Wooster's recent presentation), from there it is lowered to the surface.
The pallet then needs to be loaded onto the back of a flatbed vehicle, this could be by directly sliding it off the lift onto the vehicle, or a forklift could be used, or 2 to 4 astronauts could wrangle the pallet onto the vehicle by hand.
The vehicle might be a tractor and trailer type arrangement or it could simply be what is in essence a self-propelled trailer.


The flatbed vehicle has a pair of command seats, a pair of astronauts ride the vehicle loaded with its 20 arrays out to the solar park.
The vehicle is maneuvered into position for deploying the next array. We can consider two methods for unfolding, in the first method unfolding the array also unfolds the legs - that is a triangular leg is between the back-to-back folds and a pair of support strings center and stabilize the leg - then there would be a locking mechanism between each fold. Essentially to unfold the panels start in a vertical orientation, one astronaut acts as an anchor for the end of the array, the other astronauts facilitates smooth unfolding from the vehicle to avoid dragging the panels along the ground, and the vehicle is instructed to drive forward slowly (probably an astronaut uses voice control to tell the vehicle to drive forward or stop). Then the two astronauts walk along the array and make sure everything is correctly aligned and snapped into place.
Alternatively the array is first unfolded flat onto the ground, then the two astronauts walk along it lifting it up and folding out the legs.
The astronauts also need to secure the array against being blown over or around by wind, both of which seem like realistic possibilities (though it's probably too heavy to actually be picked up by the wind), one possibility would be that some of the legs have an eyelet through which a titanium stake can be pounded using a rotary-hammer style powertool. Rocks could also be used as anchors.
As a side note, there is probably no imperative to do this securing, only the most extreme winds would be able to shift the panels around and if no severe wind is forecasted (Mars seems to have fairly predictable seasonal weather) it could be left for later. Even if the wind does blow some arrays over they would probably not take any more damage than some light scuffing and could just be righted (once an array has been blown over it no longer catches much wind). Realistically, on Earth we just accept that the very worst storms are going to wreck stuff and we fix the damage afterwards, and it's fair to assume the same might be the case on Mars.
It should go without saying that the deployment process should be thoroughly tested and debugged on Earth to make sure there are no steps which are unduly difficult when wearing a spacesuit and spacesuit gloves.
With the array unfolded and secured at the appropriate tilt the astronauts return to the vehicle and drive the ~36 m to the location to deploy the next array.
Either the same team or another team runs diagnostic tests on each array and wires them into the grid. Each array probably has its own power regulator (inverter or DC-DC converter) and network connection for telemetry, altough the overarching design of the grid is outside the scope of this post.

Area estimate

The rows need to be spaced a considerable distance apart as the value of fixed-tilt panels in winter is greatly diminished if they shade each other, at a 45 degree tilt each panel rises 1.4 m into the air, and if the sun were 5 degrees above the horizon the shadow would be about 15 m long. Some shading is literally unavoidable on a horizontal plane and it's just a matter of figuring out how many hours of non-shaded power generation is desired per day, altough if the panels are deployed on a south-facing slope all shading could be avoided with appropriate spacing.
The need for spacing makes the footprint of the entire solar park rather greater than the basic area of the solar panels.
For instance, assuming the solar park is roughly square and an inter-row spacing of 15 m: the park might be 20 arrays wide (720 m) and 50 deep (750 m) resulting in a total area of 540,000 m2 / 54 hectares / 135 acres. At a normal walking pace it'd take about 45 minutes to walk around the perimeter of the park.
The area of just photovoltaic surface is 72000 m2: this is a higher number than some estimates, as I assume the panels are lower efficiency.

Time estimate

Deploying each array mainly involves driving and walking.
First the astronauts, starting at the Crew Starship, need to suit up and prepare for EVA. Let's call it 30 minutes (assume another crew member has prepared the spacesuits in advance).
Then they need to drive to the cargo Starship, pick up a pallet (I assume unloading is done by a separate team), and drive to the deployment sector. Let's call it 2 km of driving and if we assume the vehicle drives at 10 km/h it would take 12 minutes.
To deploy each array, the astronauts have to walk two times along its length while doing the unfolding and securing. Let's say that both times they walk at 0.4 m/s - about one-third normal walking pace. Total walking time is 7 minutes. Then let's add 2 minutes for other tasks like securing each end. Finally they drive the 36 m to the next site, taking 1 minute. Total time is 10 minutes per array.
Deploying the 20 arrays requires 200 minutes (about 3 hours). Add around 12 minutes of driving time, and it's about 3.5 hours.
The astronauts pick up a second pallet and repeat the above, taking another 3.5 hours, and finally return to the Crew Starship. The total EVA time is around 7-8 hours and during that time 40 arrays were deployed.
The driving distances and driving speeds are comparable to those of the Apollo moon buggies, also the Apollo astronauts performed moonwalks of nearly 8 hours in duration, so the above numbers are precedented.
Since there are 1000 rows, it takes around 25 days for a pair of astronauts to deploy the solar park. However if there are multiple teams then the time is reduced proportionately, two teams will complete deployment in around 13 working days.
For example taking a small crew of 8, there could be 2 astronauts who remain in the Crew Starship (they prepare the spacesuits before and after EVA), 2 astronauts work unloading the Starship, and 4 work deploying the solar panels.
It is worth noting that for Starship the minimum time between landing and the Mars->Earth transfer window is around 14 months, and then the next window is around 26 months after that (40 months). If they wish to ambitiously launch a Starship within a year of landing (which would be borderline possible, if they bring two complete propellant plants for redundancy and quickly get both running without issue) then whether the deployment takes 2 weeks or 2 months would make some difference to the attainability of that first launch. But on the more conservative timeline, when there is 40 months to produce the propellant, a setup time of a few months is of no real consequence.

The Summary

In this analysis, a new kind of solar array has to be developed specifically for Martian conditions.
The entire 1 MW solar generation capacity, requires 11 t of payload capacity and 225 m3 of payload volume.
Deployment would take two to three weeks, with four astronauts spending around 8 hours in a spacesuit each day.

Estimating my estimate

I feel I have erred on the side of over-estimating, I believe the panels could be around 20-30% lighter and take up around half the volume while still being strong and stiff enough to deal with martian gravity and wind. That requires a proper engineering study though. It might also be possible to use panels at around 22% efficiency rather than just 14% without appreciably increasing the mass or volume, just the cost: we do generally assume that in spaceflight cost is no factor, but there will be a point where it's more economical to invest in more Starships rather than more highly optimized payload: we can trust that SpaceX won't be developing any 2.5 billion dollar rovers. Also 22% efficient ultra lightweight thin-films are still rather experimental.
The deployment time is a bit of a wild estimate and I feel it could easily be half or twice my estimate.

What about rolls?

A greater surface area of rolls would be required than tilted panels and they would suffer from dust accumulation more. For this reason I would expect that solar rolls would actually mass significantly more than tilted panels. However without the need for stiffness the panels could be much thinner, even accounting for the increased collection area required, they would take up a fraction of the volume. For example if we assume each panel is 100 g/m2 and 0.1 mm thick and we want to deploy 20 MW nameplate, then the entire volume (not accounting for spindles and packaging) would be just 14 m3 and the mass would be 14 t.
So I believe there's a mass/volume tradeoff between fixed tilt panels and rolls. If there is a lot of available payload mass but not much payload volume then rolls would make more sense.
Rolls would also be much faster to deploy even accounting for the greater area required and it would be easier to do robotically as deployment is basically driving forward while unrolling the array at the same velocity as the vehicle is driving.
I expect that even if tilted panels are used, some rolls will be used too especially when quick and easy deployment is the most important factor.

Deploying rolls on slopes

Also the idea of deploying rolls on an appropriate slope often comes up. This is a good idea in principle, but it should be kept in mind that while any amount of south-facing slope is useful, a significant slope is required to get performance comparable to tilted panels. For example a slope of 20 degrees would be almost optimal for catching summer sunlight, but the very steepest streets in the world are only around 20 degrees so going steeper than this is non-trivial for vehicles to navigate (i.e. traction and stability problems). Furthermore a slope is naturally more prone to erosion than plains, meaning potentially these slopes would be quite rugged. That's not to say it'd be impossible, just that it wouldn't be an easy solution that provides all of the advantages of tilt with no disadvantages.

What about other architectures?

One interesting concept is creating solar arrays which are like very long A-Frame tents, both sides are thin film solar arrays, they run north-south and thanks to having east and west facing arrays they generate power effectively in the morning and afternoon for a flatter power curve over a day that reduces energy storage requirements, though with lower overall utilization of the solar cells. The structure is lightweight and stable and would tend to deflect wind, like fixed-tilt they resist dust accumulation.
Another concept is inflatable solar arrays, which inflate into a wedge shape for an appropriate, potentially even adjustable, tilt. If they deflate they just become a horizontal solar array.
Another concept is to drive stakes/posts into the regolith and stretch thin-films between the stakes, as an upgrade path for horizontal rolls. This kind of design is more amenable to angle adjustment over a year, or even single-axis tracking.
Without rigidity or the direct support of the ground, one concern I would have for any system that relies on pure tensile strength rather than rigidity is fatigue caused by thermal cycling and fluttering in the wind. Nevertheless an analysis using any of these approaches would probably produce numbers in the same ballpark.
submitted by BlakeMW to spacex

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