Serving The Environmental Industry Since 1992
(909) 980-1800
Mon-Sun: 8 am - 7 pm
01 Jan 2016
Space Solar Power

The Promise of Space-Based Solar Panels

Dreamy-eyed physicists have effused about the potential of stellar power, also known by the more prosaic name of space-based solar power, or SBSP, since the 1960s. They have sketched out preliminary designs that would bring that power from orbit to the grid — a giant engineering challenge, to be sure, but one that now has plausible solutions. What they haven’t been able to do is make it affordable.

Space scientists have roughed out designs for several different kinds of stellar power plants. Some look like an orbiting version of a terrestrial solar farm, with flat photovoltaic arrays stretching for miles. A design for NASA called SPS-Alpha, by former NASA physicist John Mankins, instead arranges thin-film mirrors into a bell shape that can redirect sunlight from almost any angle onto a smaller photovoltaic array.

The electrical current generated by an orbiting array can be sent to Earth in one of two forms. It could be converted into a broad infrared laser beam, or it could come down as a wider cone of microwaves, which, as Mankins notes, pass through clouds unimpeded. In either case, the satellite would focus its transmitter on a large receiving station on the ground. (See next page.) To ensure safety, the beam would be no more intense than the noonday sun, and a feedback signal would keep it from straying from its target.

For more information on these spectaculat advancements, please visit our friends at

06 Nov 2015

Learn Facts About Our Sun


Let’s face it, without the Sun there would not only not be human life on Earth but there would be no solar power either. The Sun is the central figure in our solar system and the source of all light and heat billions of miles outward. The Sun is an exciting and massive ball of gas that is studied intensely by scientists and we’ve learned a great deal about our host star over the last couple of decades. Here are a few fun facts related to the Sun.


Looking up into the sky one can easily determine that the Sun is much larger than the Earth. Figuring out how much larger however can be difficult for the layperson. To put things in perspective size wise, try to remember that if it were possible to do so one could place over 1 million Earth’s inside of the Sun and still have room left over. When trying to determine just how much larger the Sun is than the Earth it’s also important to remember that Sun’s surface area is nearly 12,000 times that of the Earth’s.


When looking up at the Sun one also thinks of how old our star is and just how long it will “burn”. In truth the Sun isn’t burning anything at all but rather fusing atoms together and in the process creating heavier elements through nuclear fusion. That said the Sun will eventually run out of hydrogen which it’s converting now. Once that happens it will begin fusing helium into even heavier elements like carbon and oxygen. Once the Sun has converted all of it’s hydrogen into helium the Sun’s outer layers will both cool and expand a great deal. As these the outer layers of the Sun grow our star will eventually consume Mercury, Venus, and even Earth. This is known as the red giant phase in the life of a star like our own. This phase follows the main sequence phase of all stars and in a star like the Sun this phase will last for millions of years.


So what happens at the end of the Sun’s red giant phase? Our star is a yellow dwarf and therefore does not have the mass necessary to explode as a supernova. Instead near the end of its red giant phase the Sun will begin pulsating and shed its outer layers off into space creating a planetary nebula. One can look into the night sky with a telescope or even strong binoculars and view planetary nebula like the crab nebula or the cats eye nebula to get a good idea of what the Sun’s nebula will look like it approximately 7 to 8 million years. Once the Sun has shed its outer layers only the core of our star will remain. This core is known as a white dwarf and will steadily cool over billions of years eventually becoming a black dwarf, a very heavy and dark solar remnant.


The Sun certainly looks round to the unaided eye and it actually is very close to a perfect sphere, unlike the Earth which is an oblate spheroid. Some stars bulge get their center and some are egg shaped but our Sun is the closest thing to a perfect sphere we have observed in space. In fact there’s only a 10 km difference in its polar diameter when compared to its equatorial diameter.


Many people are shocked to learn that the light we see is actually eight minutes old. The Sun is, on average, roughly 93,000,000 miles away from the Earth and it takes like eight minutes to travel from its surface to our planet. This means you’re seeing the Sun as it was eight minutes ago and this should help put distances in space and perspective. Nothing travels faster than light which moves at about 186,000 miles per second which from our perspective is a great distance though for light its a hop skip and a jump.


Most of us know that the moon revolves around the Earth and that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Few people however are aware that the Sun actually orbits something as well. The Sun and our entire solar system orbits the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy every 225 to 250 million years. Our Sun and all the planets are moving around the galaxy at an incredible 485,912 miles per hour.

(Photo credit goes to

30 Jun 2015

More Solar Fun Facts

SolarGem loves educating its clients as well as its prospective clients. In educating our clients we not only go to great lengths to ensure they understand how solar panels work but we also place an emphasis on the very thing that gave birth to solar panels, the sun. That big bright star in the sky is part of what enables life to exist on the Earth and it produces more energy in a few seconds than any human could utilize in their entire lifetime. Here’s a few more solar facts that are simple yet fun and useful.

Some people look up at the sun and don’t think of it as a star. The sun is a star and is but one of billions in our Milky Way galaxy. While all stars are comprised of similar elements stars come in a wide variety of sizes, weights, colors, and temperatures.

Our sun may look yellow, orange, or red when viewed from Earth. In reality however the sun is a “yellow” dwarf which emits mostly white light. It is the Earth’s atmosphere that gives our eyes the illusion of a differently colored sun.

When we see other stars in the night sky they appear white, small, and twinkle only because of our distance from them and the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere. In reality the vast majority of stars we see at night time are stars much larger than our own and are often red, blue, or yellow. The vast majority of stars however cannot be seen without the aid of a telescope as they are much smaller and cooler than our sun. The stars are known as red dwarfs.

The solar system is comprised of eight planets, several dwarf planets, and a multitude of comets and asteroids. Although there are likely trillions of objects orbiting our sun all of these objects, the planets included, still only make up 1% of the entire solar system. The sun comprises the other 99%.

Unbeknownst to many individuals the sun actually has a name. The name “Sol” is derived from Latin and is used in many different countries and sometimes by scientists who’ve grown tired of referring to it as “the sun”.

Although our sun is a considered a dwarf star it is still unimaginably large. So large is the sun in fact that if you could fit 1 million earths inside of it you’d still have room left over for more. For a greater perspective try to remember that the sun is nearly 865,000 miles wide.

Though the sun looks to be a large ball of fire from our vantage point here on earth, our host star actually contains no fire whatsoever. In reality the sun is comprised of hot burning gas. So why is this gas so hot? The suns heat is generated by atoms that are fused together into heavier elements. It is the release of energy during this atomic fusion that gives the sun its heat in the earth it’s light.


(Photo credit goes to