Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Silicon Valley's Tower of Power

It may sound like the name of an Orange County Megachurch, but the Tower of Power is a revolutionary idea by NASA to make good use of an existing structure.

NASA has a revolutionary vision for Hangar One, the toxics-coated hulk that once housed a dirigible at Mountain View's Moffett Field: Wrap the 200-foot-high landmark with a solar-paneled skin that pumps out electricity.

The Silicon Valley icon could become the largest solar-powered building in the state by the end of next year, generating enough juice to power 3,000 homes and house a new aerospace museum. That is, if the U.S. Navy -- charged with the toxic cleanup -- doesn't decide to demolish the hangar first.

``Mars rovers have solar panels, and so does the space station. Why not here on Earth?'' said Diane Farrar, one of the leaders of the preservation campaign at NASA/Ames Research Center, which owns the building. ``We could call this the biggest solar system in California.''