My planet is tidally locked, airless, and has no magnetosphere. It's located close to a flare star (5% solar mass, 11 Gyr old), and is in it's habitable zone. The strongest flare ever detected on Earth was class X-100,000, but we've got a very limited time looking at them so be safe so to not underestimate. This flare star is very strong, and very active with mega flares up to class X-10,000,000.

The planetary empire is 25 billion strong and 500 million years old. They live deep underground to protect themselves from the flares. But all the nuclear fuel on the planet is almost spent. I was thinking huge amounts of solar thermal collecting stations are the best way to get energy because the sun always stays overhead - but can infrastructure above ground like vehicles, outposts, computers, and comms. be hardened to survive against these regular mega flares?

Only existing technology please, no handwavium.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Habitable... like in what? What liquid is the planet life based on? Hundred of millions of years is long enough for a significant amount of water to evaporate in an airless atmosphere and be blow away by flares. (speaking of "no handwavium", I believe some suggestions on how they come to civilization on an airless planet are necessary) $\endgroup$ – Adrian Colomitchi Feb 29 '20 at 3:12
  • $\begingroup$ within the habitable zone of the star only because its close enough for effective solar power in my story. all water is stored in underground facilities. the planet was colonized long ago by humans. abiogenesis never occurred on the planet because it never had an atmosphere. water ice was collect from mining operations underground and on dark side / poles. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 29 '20 at 3:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Details should realy be included in the question not comments because comments are ephemeral in nature - which doesn't fit with our remit of making a lasting archive of Q&A. $\endgroup$ – Tantalus' touch. Feb 29 '20 at 3:49


Since you only want to use the energy underground in safe locations there is no need to convert it into electricity before it is underground and in safe location. You do not need to have any electronics or permanent presence above the ground. Just transfer the heat from the collectors to the power plant and from the power plant to radiators by pumping water in non-conductive pipes. No moving parts above the ground are needed. Just make everything robust enough it doesn't need regular repair.

This will hurt efficiency since energy is lost in or to transit but it is fairly simple to do. For a civilization already living underground it should be trivial. They are probably already using the same technology in those nuclear plants to get heat to radiators on the surface.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks, great idea transferring the liquids beneath the surface. the nuclear plants radiated heat away into ground as a heat sink rather than radiated away into space. but when repairs are needed can any electronics survive or even be hardened against a flare of this magnitude? i'm thinking for repair vehicles and underground access points Faraday cage exteriors, surge and charge protectors, nanosecond protection devices everywhere. even still I may have to change the setting to a larger star that is not a strong. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 29 '20 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ @David You do not actually need to have any electronics on the surface do you? Nothing you need to have on the surface needs electricity or needs electricity to construct or repair. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Feb 29 '20 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ lets just say i need to have complex electrical devices on the surface for whatever reason, like a collector tower leaked fluid after having a hole punch in it by a micrometeorite . my main problem is i'm not an electrical engineer... sadly. So i can only guess and say the incorporation of a lot of magnetic shielding and electric surge protection measures can protect any servicing vehicle or stations, maybe? the flare might just be to strong, generating currents in wires between surge or charge protectors meaning its impossible no matter what i do. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 29 '20 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ after some consideration flares don't occur all time or with the same strength. and they have to be pointed at the planet, therefore, the best option would be fast repairs, in and out operations and check ups. underground access close to the power stations. if current tech is advanced enough to protect these servicing machines, which it may be actually... no electrician. than there's really no problem. thank for your assistance in helping me with my query. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 29 '20 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ @David Look, before Programmable Micro-Controllers took over people used lot more pneumatics, you can store energy in a tank of compressed air, it can power tools and automation and even pneumatic or mechanical logic, it can power vehicles, and most importantly it can start and be powered by diesel engines or gas turbines that can run without electricity. So nothing about servicing above ground parts of your power infrastructure needs to be electrical. We just are used to using electricity because PMCs are very convenient and electric wiring is generally easier than pneumatic lines. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Feb 29 '20 at 7:28

Note that solar flares are a problem here on Earth because they interact with Earth's magnetic field to produce geomagnetic storms, and fill the magnetosphere with charged particles that fry satellites. With no magnetosphere, there would be no geomagnetic storms, and only a tiny fraction of the flare will directly interact with your grid. You would mainly have be concerned with the radiation produced by the flares themselves, since you lack an atmosphere.

Solar thermal would be a good start, since the x-rays and particle radiation would cook photovoltaics over time. You would want to bury (or otherwise shield) sophisticated control electronics and have shelters that surface workers could quickly access. Otherwise, you'd probably be fine carefully segmenting the grid and shielding power and signal cables.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.