Alta’s Uniquely Flexible, Lightweight and Efficient Solar Modules Enable Innovative Power Designs for Small Satellites
Logan, UT – August 7, 2017 – Several players in the small satellite field are using Alta Devices solar technology in their exhibits at this week’s 31st Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites taking place in Logan, Utah. These projects highlight Alta Devices unique flexible, lightweight and high efficiency solar power solution for the emerging small satellite market.
“Highly integrated electronics, novel sensor technologies, and micro-propulsion systems are enabling small satellites such as CubeSats to expand into missions that traditionally have been possible only with large satellites,” said Portland State University Professor Andrew Greenberg. Greenberg is the faculty advisor behind Oregon’s first satellite, OreSat, one of the organizations using Alta Devices technology. “These new capabilities always require more electrical power, which need larger solar arrays, necessitating the use of a flexible, powerful and easy to integrate solar cell. We’re very excited to be working with Alta Devices solar technology on our OreSat CubeSat project. These cells can be easily handled by students, don’t require traditionally painstaking encapsulation techniques, and are surprisingly affordable. And they provide excellent power output compared to other alternatives.”
Often only the size of a loaf of bread and weighing less than 15kg, CubeSats have been leading the small satellite revolution. Typically placed into low-earth orbits a few hundred kilometers in altitude, CubeSats have standardized dimensions and often use commercial, off-the-shelf technologies. This results in satellites with significantly lower costs that are much easier to launch. CubeSats are thus in a strong position to serve the burgeoning demand for space-based assets, such as real-time remote sensing for Earth observation, precision agriculture and on-demand satellite data communications. These new opportunities have sparked an exploding class of CubeSat-based businesses, resulting in rapid growth in the small satellite industry. CubeSats are beginning to create new kinds of products, services and markets which are only possible with increased access to space.
Regardless of their design or application, all small satellites share one attribute: the need for solar cells to generate electrical power. Power is needed not only for computers, sensors, and communications, but increasingly for novel technologies such as laser communications and even electric propulsion. Until now, there have been no commercial solar technologies that could match the improvement in cost, weight and ease of use that other components of small satellite technology have achieved: solar cells are traditionally expensive, fragile, rigid, and difficult to encapsulate and robustly attach to spacecraft.
However, Alta Devices solar cells address all of these traditional problems because they are flexible, easy to encapsulate and mount, and provide high conversion efficiencies. For example, Alta Devices cells can be mounted to thin, flexible, low-mass deployable structures allowing creative design approaches to maximizing onboard solar power, including coiled carbon fiber booms, flat-packed, polymer-based accordion arrays, even inflatable structures. Alta Devices cells provide a new level of mechanical and design flexibility for the small satellite industry.
Alta Devices is exhibiting at the Small Satellite Conference this week at Booth #213T. On display will be Alta Devices solar technologies and a display of the OreSat satellite.
OreSat is Oregon’s first satellite. Part of the 2017 NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative, OreSat is a vehicle for collaborative, interdisciplinary aerospace engineering education for the state of Oregon. OreSat will perform atmospheric science research and serve as a testbed for innovative long-range WiFi, solar cell and satellite bus technologies, all while providing innovative, STEM-based outreach to the entire state of Oregon and beyond. More about OreSat can be found at http://oresat.org/.
About Alta Devices
Alta Devices is (EM)POWERING THE UNPLUGGED WORLD™ by delivering the world’s most efficient, thin and flexible mobile power technology. By converting light of any kind into electricity, Alta Devices AnyLight™ power technology extends the energy source of a system, and in many cases, completely cuts the traditional power cord. The solution can be completely integrated into the final system, and is ideal for use in small satellites, unmanned systems, consumer electronics, sensors, automotive, remote exploration, or anywhere size, weight, and mobility matter. Alta Devices holds world records for energy conversion efficiency and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA. Alta Devices is a Hanergy company.