PDF report
Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Caltech
Published: December 21, 2017

Publication No.: JPL D-10136

Clearance No.:

URS No.:


In order to plan effectively for the future, NASA’s Planetary Science Division requested an assessment of the space solar power technologies required to enable/enhance the capabilities of future planetary science mission concepts (>2025). The study report is organized into five major sections: 1) study overview, 2) potential solar power system needs of future planetary science missions, 3) capabilities and limitations of state-of-practice (SOP) space solar power systems, 4) status of advanced solar cell and array technologies, and 5) findings and recommendations.

Study Overview

The specific objectives of the study include: a) review the solar power system needs of potential future planetary science missions, b) assess the capabilities and limitations of state of practice space solar cell/array systems, c) assess the status of advanced solar cell/array technologies currently under development and assess their potential capabilities and limitations, and d) identify and recommend candidate solar cell and array technologies required for future planetary science mission concepts.

JPL assembled a technical assessment team to perform this study. The team consisted of subject matter experts in the areas of mission planning, spacecraft power systems engineering, and space solar power systems and technologies. The assessment team members were selected from NASA (HQ, JPL-Caltech, GRC, LaRC, and GSFC), Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU-APL), and Department of Defense (DoD). The team met with engineers and technologists from U.S. solar cell and array manufacturers, aerospace organizations, and NASA mission centers to obtain information on the capabilities and limitations of the SOP technologies. In addition, the team also met with several solar cell and array scientists and technologists from universities, industry, NASA, DoD, and aerospace organizations to obtain information on advanced solar cell and array technologies currently under development. The assessment team held four meetings to: a) obtain information about potential next decadal planetary science mission concepts and their power system needs, b) determine the capabilities of SOP space solar power systems, c) assess the status and potential capabilities of advanced photovoltaic (PV) power systems under development at various national laboratories, industry, and universities, and d) summarize the findings and compile the recommendations.


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