maybe they are wind panels

So we were at the Space Center last Friday for the World Space Expo, and Frank and I were walking by the model of the International Space Station.
wind panels

FRANK J.: What are those things hanging down from the Space Station?
SARAHK: I don’t know. Maybe they’re solar panels.
FRANK J.:
SARAHK: No, those are solar panels up above, I think. I don’t know, maybe they’re wind panels.
FRANK J.: Wind panels. Okay, what would be the purpose of wind panels in space?
SARAHK: Um… I don’t know. To help move it along.
FRANK J.: Is there wind in space?
SARAHK: Um… maybe. Maybe it can catch a draft from the Space Shuttle when it flies by.
FRANK J.: Is that likely?
SARAHK: I don’t know.
FRANK J.: What’s in space?
SARAHK: A vacuum.
FRANK J.: Uh-huh…
SARAHK: And there’s no wind in a vacuum?
FRANK J.: Very good!
SARAHK: Well, you don’t know that. Have you ever been in one and tested that?
FRANK J.: What do you need for wind?
SARAHK: Stuff… and air…

Then the conversation moved to how Mythbusters should do a show on that scene from Armageddon where the ISS blows up, and there’s a big outward explosion. And Frank became the cutie head:

FRANK J.: Yeah, how would they do that experiment?
SARAHK: Uh. They can create a vacuum and explode a model inside the vacuum.
FRANK J.: Oh yeah, they have the equipment for that.

So. What are those things hanging down? Best I can tell from looking at the interactive model on NASA’s website, they’re radiator panels.

11 Responses to maybe they are wind panels

  1. I got two words for you two nimrods

    SOLAR WIND
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_wind

    further, space is only a vacuum (devoid of matter) to the extent you pick a chunk of it that has nothing in it

    that is all for your lesson today

  2. solar wind is completely different, nimrod. :P

  3. My first reaction was they’re heat exchangers (yeah, ok, radiator panels) but I’m too lazy to try looking it up.

  4. solar wind, coming from the sun, is parallel with the sunlight. thus, solar wind sails (and yes, there are such things) would be coplanar with the solar panels.

    seeing that these things appear to share a pivot point with the solar panels, my guess is they are the framework the solar panels sat in for protection before they unfolded.

  5. ok, got bored and looked it up – we are all right. they are structural frameworks that held the solar panels during launch and assembly and now perform the secondary function of radiators.

  6. If they did it on Mythbusters, the show would end with them blowing up the ISS. Not that I have a problem with that. I’m just sayin’…

  7. Gullyborg got it. One of the biggest problems with spacecraft can be disposing of excess heat, remember space isn’t cold or hot, it isn’t anything, else how would a Thermos work?

    While solar wind does indeed exist (and can even be used for propulsion) it would require much larger frames than these to be of any use.

  8. i wasn’t suggesting those panels on the “international” space station were for solar wind

    the NASA website says they are manufactured by some company called the Trilateral Commission–but it doesn’t say what they are for

  9. The interactive ISS on NASA’s site does say that they are radiator panels.

  10. That’s where Halliburton hid all the extra Al Gore votes.

  11. Sometimes I think you’re secretly married to Scott.