Power System

How do solar panels supply energy for spacecraft?

Why do solar arrays need to be oriented towards the Sun?

The amount of power available to a solar panel is proportional to the amount of light that reaches it. The more light it gets, the more power it produces.

In space, the most important source of light is the Sun. The Sun emits just about the same amount of light in all directions.

When solar panels are pointed right at the Sun(or aligned with the Sun), then they intercept the most light rays.

When the solar panel is out of alignment, it intercepts fewer light rays.

To get the most power, solar panels have to be pointed directly at the Sun. DS1 is built so that the solar panels can be pivoted as DS1 moves. Thus, they can always stay in the direct path of the light rays no matter how the spacecraft is pointed.

Sometimes, satellite scientists purposefully orient the solar panels "off point," or out of direct alignment from the Sun. If the batteries are completely charged and the amount of electricity is needed is lower than the amount made if the panels are "on point," generating that much power isn't necessary. The extra power will just be vented by a shunt into space as heat.

What are solar panels?
Why do the solar panels look like wings?
How do solar concentrators work?
What is heat?

Why do solar panels become less useful the farther they get from the Sun?
What is efficiency?
What is energy?
What is electromagnetic radiation?

Why don't we receive light from all the stars in the universe?
What happens to the heat once it is released into space?