Solar Cell Arrays

How they Work

Panels of solar cells mounted to the top and side exterior surfaces power the satellites.

An electrical power subsystem generates, converts, conditions, regulates, distributes and stores primary electrical power in accordance with instrument and satellite needs. Electrical energy is generated using gallium arsenide solar cell array panels that cover the top and sides of each satellite. In all, each satellite is covered by 1,870 individual solar cells. Excess energy on each satellite is stored in a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 78 amp hours. The system provides an average of 355 watts of electrical power on orbit and is manufactured by Airbus. For reference, a typical hair dryer on high heat uses about 1,500 watts of power.