Traveling directly away from crew quarters and past the main common area, we proceed through a large double door. The space inside houses row after row of double ceiling height machines, all humming away while processing electricity collected from massive solar arrays outside.
“Here is a peak at the secondary collection matrix. This is what stores and manages the energy flow from the exterior solar power collectors. Some of the power is stored locally or used by the station, and the rest is piped down to the planet through the tether lines. Occasionally, wireless power transmission is used as well when we need it. Sometimes people on Earth can be extra power hungry!”
I pull out the smallest camera and clip it to my empty breast pocket; activating it and switching it to video mode. It has advanced shake reduction and strong dynamic range capabilities, so I don’t worry too much about micro managing it. After that is running, I take the handle of the larger camera, so that I can record a few detailed still images. Both are set to capture a wide field of view. It is simply much easier that way, and allows me to put more focus on what Leena is saying. The cameras are both high resolution and allow for extensive cropping after the fact, if I need more detail.
As we walk through this vast array of machines, I snap a few still images at various angles. Not many people are fortunate enough to see things like this. It is a prime representation of human knowledge and our collective effort thus far. The grand scale and intricate details are fascinating. Each machine has a status display to provide the workers feedback about what is going on behind the silver jungle of metal tubes and machinery. There are a small handful of workers shuffling between the machines and talking amongst themselves.
Leena points to a small group of workers and begins a description of what is going on: “The workers here monitor the entire sub-system to make certain that everything stays running at top efficiency. Even a slight reduction in such a massive system could be a big loss of power. There really isn’t too much to see because these are all just duplicates of the same machine. Think of it working like parallel processing in a computer system. Each machine takes in, stores, or reroutes some of the incoming power. A section of solar panels are linked directly with each machine here, but we are capable of changing that if either piece of the puzzle is down for maintenance. Let’s move on to the transport deck that houses one of the best viewing areas on the station. I love going there as often as possible!”