What innovations does Power and Energy Conversion involve?

Power Conditioning laboratory
Power Conditioning laboratory

The division carries out a number of R&D activities including standardising the architecture of power control systems and developing models to simulate their performance in orbit.

In terms of power sources, work proceeds on improving the efficiency of solar arrays through advanced multijunction solar cells and shrinking their weight through the production of thin films as well as diversifying solar cell designs to extend their use far beyond Earth orbit.

On the one side this means low intensity low temperature (LILT) technology that make solar cells theoretically reliable even as far out as the orbit of Jupiter, but also moving in the other direction, to develop solar cells able to cope with the scorching temperatures found in the close vicinity of the Sun. Solar cells are also being customised for future Mars rovers to maximise the power attainable from the Martian light spectrum.

Advanced batteries using new materials are also in development, to offer higher specific energy. Fuel cells are also being considered for future missions.

Last update: 18 November 2009

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