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Power Systems

Solar Panels and a Battery for Providing Power Supply

Electrical power is provided by the spacecraft's solar panels, which are folded against its body during launch and deploy shortly after the launch vehicle housing has been jettisoned. The panels are mounted on a drive mechanism that tilts them forward and backward to catch most sunlight. Their surface area is 11 square meters (118 square feet), which is larger than those used on near-Earth orbiting satellites to compensate for the drop in sunlight intensity at Mars.

When the spacecraft's view of the Sun is obscured during a solar eclipse, an innovative lithium-ion battery, previously charged up by the solar panels, will take over the power supply. They are important as some 1,400 eclipses, lasting up to 90 minutes, are expected during the primary mission's lifetime. Eclipses occur when the spacecraft is in polar orbit around Mars and its view of the Sun is obscured. When Mars is at its maximum distance from the Sun, the solar panels will be capable of delivering 650 Watts which is more than enough to meet the mission's maximum requirement of 500 Watts.

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