Power, Methods of Generating - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Space Sciences

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Solar Power Generation

Solar arrays produce electrical power directly from sunlight. Most long-duration space missions use solar arrays for their primary power. Most designs use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. They can be made from crystalline silicon, or from advanced materials such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) or cadmium telluride (CdTe). The photovoltaic cells with the highest efficiency use several layers of semiconductor material, with each layer optimized to convert a different portion of the solar spectrum. The solar intensity at Earth's orbit is 1,368 watts per square meter, and the best photovoltaic cells manufactured today can convert about a third of the solar energy to electrical power. For electrical power when the Sun is not available (for example, when a space vehicle is over the night side of Earth), solar power systems typically use rechargeable batteries for storage.

Solar power systems can also be designed...

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This section contains 861 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Power, Methods of Generating Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Space Sciences
Power, Methods of Generating from Macmillan Science Library: Space Sciences. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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