What are possible power sources for satellites?
Solar panels are devices that convert light into electricity. They are called "solar" panels because most of the time, the most powerful source of light available is the Sun, called Sol by astronomers. Some scientists call them photovoltaics which means, basically, "light-electricity."
Figure from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Deep Space One Web Site: http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds1/
A solar panel is a collection of solar cells. Lots of small solar cells spread over a large area can work together to provide enough power to be useful. The more light that hits a cell, the more electricity it produces, so spacecraft are usually designed with solar panels that can always be pointed at the Sun even as the rest of the body of the spacecraft moves around, much as a tank turret can be aimed independently of where the tank is going.
DS1's solar cells are even more efficient than regular solar panels made for satellites because they use solar concentrators.
How efficient are solar panels?
How do solar concentrators work?
Do solar panels wear out?
Why do the solar panels look like wings?
How do solar panels convert the Sun's energy into electricity?
Why do solar arrays always have be oriented towards the Sun?
Why do solar cells become less efficient the farther they are from the Sun?
How much power does DS1 use? How much power does it produce?
How are solar panels made?
What's a semiconductor?