1961 has been a year of outstanding success in celestial applications of solar energy since, at the year’s end, no less than a dozen satellites are in orbit, carrying solar-powered radio and television transmitters. The first satellite to carry silicon cells into orbit, Vanguard I, is still transmitting after nearly four years of service, despite serious deterioration of its silicon cells due to the intense radiation of the Van Allen belt. Three major scientific conferences on solar energy were held during the year, with the addition of nearly two hundred papers to the growing body of literature on the subject. The largest of these gatherings, the United Nations Conference on New Sources of Energy, brought more than 500 participants from 80 nations together in Rome. A major improvement in small vapor-cycle power plants, developed at the National Physical Laboratory of Israel, was described and demonstrated in actual operation. Significant progress in direct solar-electrical converters of three types was reported, but costs are still far too high for terrestrial use. Solar water heaters continue to be the only commercially available devices which use the sun’s heat; 350,000 are now in use in Japan, while more than 20,000 units have been manufactured in Israel. The most pressing need for solar-activated equipment is found to exist in the field of refrigeration for the preservation of food and medicine in tropical regions where electricity from conventional sources lies far in the future. Intensified research is needed in all aspects of solar energy utilization to bring costs down to the point where the people of the world can afford to use the “free energy” from the sun.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.