Only a fraction of the total power emitted by the sun impinges on an object in space which is some distance from the sun. The solar irradiance (H_{0} in W/m^{2}) is the power density incident on an object due to illumination from the sun. At the sun's surface, the power density is that of a blackbody at about 6000K and the total power from the sun is this value multiplied by the sun's surface area. However, at some distance from the sun, the total power from the sun is now spread out over a much larger surface area and therefore the solar irradiance on an object in space decreases as the object moves further away from the sun.

The solar irradiance on an object some distance D from the sun is found by dividing the total power emitted from the sun by the surface area over which the sunlight falls. The total solar radiation emitted by the sun is given by sT^{4} multiplied by the surface area of the sun (4pR^{2}_{sun}) where R_{sun} is the radius of the sun. The surface area over which the power from the sun falls will be 4pD^{2}. Where D is the distance of the object from the sun. Therefore, the solar radiation intensity, H_{0} in (W/m^{2}), incident on an object is:

where:

H_{sun} is the power density at the sun's
surface (in W/m^{2}) as determined by Stefan-Boltzmann's blackbody
equation;

R_{sun }is the radius of the sun in meters as shown in the figure below; and

D is the distance from the sun in meters as shown in the figure below.

The table below gives standardised values for the radiation at each of the planets but by entering the distance you can obtain an approximation.

Planet | Distance (x 10
^{9} m) | Solar Constant (W/m^{2}) |
---|---|---|

Mercury | 57 | 9228 |

Venus | 108 | 2586 |

Earth | 150 | 1353 |

Mars | 227 | 586 |

Jupiter | 778 | 50 |

Saturn | 1426 | 15 |

Uranus | 2868 | 4 |

Neptune | 4497 | 2 |

Pluto | 5806 | 1 |