The Power of the Station's New Solar Arrays
Since its inception, the International Space Station has been powered by large, heavy, and complex solar panels. But, as expected, these panels have slowly degraded over time.
As a part of an experiment, the station’s robotic arm unfurled the first ROSA – Roll Out Solar Array – in 2017, testing a new and unique concept.
Instead of a rigid solar panel, ROSA was crafted from a composite carbon fiber containing an array of solar cells that can be deployed and retracted similar to a tape measure, using stored strain energy of the material. ROSA was also lightweight, and generated power with more efficiency.
Now, larger versions of ROSA technology, known as iROSA, are being installed on the station permanently through a series of launches and spacewalks. The arrays augment the existing power supply and restore power to previous levels when the original arrays were installed.
ROSA technology is also an important part of future exploration. It will serve as a power source for Gateway, the planned multi-purpose outpost orbiting the Moon. It will also help power DART, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, as it makes its way to the Didymos asteroid system. ROSA - proven on the space station, and powering its way to the Moon and beyond our planet’s reach.