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Power from Sunlight - Powering space exploration with solar energy | Teach with space P09

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ESA / Education / Teachers' Corner

Subjects: Physics |

In this set of activities, students will learn about two concepts that influence solar panel design for space missions: the inverse square law and the angle of incidence. Students will perform two simple investigations using a photovoltaic cell (solar cell) and a light source. First, they will measure how the power produced by the solar cells varies with distance from the light source and attempt to retrieve the inverse square law for light intensity experimentally. Students will then conduct a second experiment to investigate the dependence of the power output for the solar cell with the angle of incidence. Last, they will apply these concepts to real ESA space missions.

Download: Teacher’s guide and student worksheets
Age range: 14 – 18 years old
Keywords: Physics, Solar power, Inverse square law, Light intensity, Angle of incidence, Solar System

This classroom resource is part of a set of resources developed by ESA’s Education Office in collaboration with ESEROs to support the Moon Camp project.

A lunar day lasts for 14 Earth days and a lunar night it is just as long. Can you use solar energy to power your lunar base? Find out more on this Airbus Foundation Discover Space animation.


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