Rocket Lab USA Inc. will provide solar panels to power NASA’s mobile robots under the Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Explorers program.
The solar panels will use the Long Beach Aerospace Company’s inverted metamorphic (IMM) multi-junction solar cells, which are more efficient and lighter than standard multi-junction space solar cells and provide the exact capacities needed for the program, said Rocket Lab in A Liberation.
The solar cells were developed by SolAero Technologies Inc., which was acquired by Rocket Lab in January.
The Robotic Exploration Program is the next generation of NASA’s self-contained foldable flatbed explorer robot technology. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at La Canada-Flintridge designs the group-crawling robots to collect data in the hardest-to-reach places on the moon, Mars and beyond.
Brad Clevenger, vice president of space systems at Rocket Lab, said the company is proud to support innovative new ways to explore space.
“The program (of robotic explorers) could help map uncharted regions on the moon and access hard-to-reach parts of Mars, expanding our understanding of distant planets and the moon,” Clevenger said in a statement.
The robotic explorers are intended to fly as part of a technology demonstration on a commercial robotic lander over the next five years as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative, according to the release.
IMM cells were also used to power General Atomics’ GAzelle spacecraft, which Rocket Lab launched Oct. 7 as part of its 31st Electron rocket mission.
The launch is its eighth of the year, breaking the company’s previous record of seven launches in 2020. Rocket Lab has now successfully launched a mission every month since April 2022, providing frequent access to orbit, the company said. company in a press release.
The mission successfully deployed the GAzelle satellite designed and manufactured by General Atomics – Electromagnetic Systems, carrying the Argos-4 Advanced Data Collection (A-DCS) payload, according to the release.
Now in orbit, Argos-4 joined a network of other Argos instruments to collect a variety of data from fixed and mobile transmitters around the world. This information helps to better understand the Earth’s physical and biological environment, including its weather and climate, its biodiversity and its ecosystems, as well as assisting with maritime safety, offshore pollution and humanitarian aid. , the statement added.
The Argos-4 instrument on board the GAzelle satellite was provided by the French National Center for Space Studies.