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Design and performance of the MER (Mars Exploration Rovers) solar arrays

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3 Author(s)
Stella, P.M. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; Ewell, R.C. ; Hoskin, J.J.

The Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) program posed a significant engineering and technology challenge. Now that the Rovers have operated beyond their original design life of three months by nearly a factor of four it is clear that the challenge was met and far exceeded. A key to the success of MER has been the enhanced power provided by the cruise and Rover solar arrays. Benefiting from a nearly 50% improvement in cell efficiency compared to the single junction GaAs cells used on Pathfinder, the MER designs were subject to many constraints both in design and in operation. These constraints included limited available panel area, changing illumination levels and temperatures, and variable shadowing, atmospheric conditions and dust accumulation for the rovers. This paper will discuss those constraints and their impact on the design. In addition, flight data will be provided to assess the performance achieved during the mission.

Published in:

Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, 2005. Conference Record of the Thirty-first IEEE

Date of Conference:

3-7 Jan. 2005