The toolbar provides you with the ability to navigate the map window, enable various mapping tools, download solar data, and activate tools that allow you explore the data in greater detail. Tools in the toolbar enabled/disabled by clicking on individual tool buttons. There can be only one tool enabled at a time. Below is an image of the Prospector toolbar with comments that help describe what each tool does.
The Prospector allows you to view various GIS map layers. These layers present spatial information related to land ownership, solar resources, environmental data-sets, etc. Each layer is controlled via the "layer tree" in the left hand panel of the application. The layer tree organizes each map layer into a folder and allows the user to toggle the layer's visibility (turn them on/off), view each layer's legend, and adjust layer transparencies. Turning layers on and off is performed by checking and unchecking the layer's check box. To view the map legend you may either click on the "Legend Tab" at the top of the panel, of right-click on the layer name in the layer tree. Each layer's legend allows understanding the layer classes/colors, and the legend provide the ability to turn on and off layer classes. Additionalliy the legend can be used to hide/show classes of data in each layer.
One of the primary features of the Solar Prospector is the ability to download hourly solar resource data for the years 1998 to 2005. The hourly data files for each year can be downloaded in two formats: Comma Separated Value (.csv) format, or Typical Meteorological Year 2 (.tm2) format. The spatial resolution of the solar data is 10 km. This means that data downloaded from the Prospector represents the hourly solar resource for the center of a 10 km grid cell. For more information on the solar resource data in the Prospector see: Perez et al. (2002). A new operational model for satelite-derived irradiances: description and validation. Solar Energy, 73, 307-317.
Solar Resource Analysis
The Prospector includes tools that allow for simple analysis of site specific solar resource data. the primary tools for performing analysis is the "Resource Graph" tool, located under the "Analysis" toolbar button. While this tool is active it's possible to select a point on the map and view the "temporal variability" of the solar resources at that location. The Prospector will show a graph that showing the minimum, maximum, and mean DNI for the selected location. This graph is useful for understanding how DNI varies throughout the year. If the distance between the minimum, maximum, and mean values is wide, then the resource at that location is highly variable.