How do solar panels supply energy for spacecraft?

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."

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.

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How do solar panels convert the Sun's energy into electricity?
How do solar concentrators work?
Do solar panels wear out?
What happens to a ship when it runs out of power?
Why do the solar panels look like wings?
How does DS1's electrical system work?
What are possible power sources for satellites?

What's a circuit?
How are solar panels made?
Why do solar panels become less useful the farther they get from the Sun?
Why do solar arrays need to be oriented towards the Sun?
How efficient are solar panels?

How are solar panels made?