On July 4 this year, the NASA spacecraft, Juno, entered the orbit of Jupiter. Juno is fitted with three solar panels containing 18,700 solar cells. These panel are the largest ever deployed on a planetary probe and they also play an important role in stabilising the spacecraft.
Juno’s journey is said to be the farthest solar powered trip in the history of space exploration, as other deep space voyages have used radio isotopic thermoelectric generators.
Jupiter’s orbit is five times further from the Sun than Earth’s meaning that the panels receive 25 times less sunlight than panels on Earth. The modern solar cells used on Juno are 50 times more efficient and radiation tolerant than cells available for space missions 20 years ago.
Find out more about Juno at the NASA website