Scientists working for the Pentagon have successfully tested a solar panel the size of a pizza box in space, designed as a prototype for a future system to send electricity from space back to any point on Earth.
The panel is designed to make best use of the light in space, which doesn’t pass through the atmosphere, and so retains the energy of blue waves, making it more powerful than the sunlight that reaches Earth.
“We’re getting a ton of extra sunlight in space just because of that,” said Paul Jaffe, a co-developer of the project.
The panels would know precisely where to send the microwaves — and not accidentally fire it at the wrong target — using a technique called “retro-directive beam control. ” This sends a pilot signal up from the destination antenna on Earth to the panels in space.
The microwaves — which would easily be turned into electricity on Earth — could be sent to any point on the planet with a receiver, Jaffe said.
“It would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible,” he said, to weaponize the solar power from space.