The solar array on a satellite is an essential and visually striking component consisting of an array of solar panels designed to harness the abundant energy radiating from the Sun. This ingenious system serves as the primary power source for the satellite, converting sunlight into electrical energy that fuels all its systems and operations.
Comprising numerous interconnected solar panels, the solar array is meticulously positioned on the satellite’s surface to optimise solar energy absorption. Each solar panel is meticulously engineered using advanced photovoltaic technology, which efficiently converts sunlight into electrical power through the photovoltaic effect.
As the satellite orbits the Earth, its solar array constantly tracks the Sun, ensuring that its solar panels are optimally oriented to receive the maximum amount of sunlight. This tracking capability, often referred to as solar tracking or solar array drive, maximises the energy capture, even during orbital variations and seasonal changes.
The electrical power generated by the solar array not only powers the satellite’s onboard systems but also charges and replenishes its onboard batteries. These batteries serve as crucial energy reservoirs, storing surplus power during the illuminated portion of the satellite’s orbit, which is then used during the darker phases, such as during eclipse periods or when the satellite is in Earth’s shadow. This ensures uninterrupted operation and continuous power supply for all the satellite’s critical functions, communication, data processing, payload operations, and more.