Energy Action Day Focuses on Harnessing Solar Power

Energy Action Day Panel Discussion at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Chuck Tatro of NASA’s Launch Services Program discusses the use of solar arrays on space science missions during the Energy Action Day employee event held Oct. 25, 2017, in Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility. Part of Energy Awareness Month, the event featured subject matter experts in the area of solar energy, its connections to the space program and options for residential solar power. Photo credit: NASA/Michelle Stone

The solar focus of NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Energy Action Day was a perfect fit for a facility located in the middle of the Sunshine State.

Employees from the Florida spaceport spent their lunchtime in the center’s Space Station Processing Facility conference room on Oct. 25 to hear from a panel of subject-matter experts from NASA, power utilities and other institutions regarding the use of solar energy in space, at Kennedy and even at home.

Chuck Tatro of NASA’s Launch Services Program explained the role of solar arrays in spaceflight, such as the Juno mission to Jupiter, and Kennedy Space Center’s Sam Ball discussed the 1.5-megawatt solar expansion in progress at the center. Bill McMullen of Southern Power, John Sherwin of the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, and Lorraine Koss of the Brevard County Solar Co-op spoke about community and residential solar energy, as well as ways to reduce energy loads at home.

“On Juno, there are almost 19,000 solar cells on three array wings,” Tatro said of the Juno spacecraft, which launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Aug. 5, 2011, and slipped into orbit around our solar system’s largest planet on July 4, 2016. “These are the largest solar arrays ever deployed on a far-reaching planetary probe.”

The event was held in conjunction with Energy Action Month, historically a nationwide effort to underscore how important energy management is to our national prosperity, security and environmental sustainability.

Sherwin pointed out that homeowners can evaluate and reduce their power usage even if they haven’t made the switch to solar.

“It’s no surprise that, here in Florida, most of it is in cooling,” Sherwin said. “But homeowners should look beyond air conditioners and appliances, because even small items such as DVRs, aquariums or landscape fountains outside will contribute to the energy load.

“You should look at all of this and say, where is my energy being used? And look for ways to reduce loads,” he said.