# National Aeronautics and Space Administration

## NASA eClips: Solar Power in Space

Learn how NASA technologies use alternative energy. Solar sails propel spacecraft through space. The International Space Station, or ISS, catches sunlight to provide electricity and oxygen to the station.

 Jump to video program This short video discusses many new solar technologies being developed by NASA such as solar sails for propulsion and enormous solar arrays the size of a football field to power the ISS. Solar sails use the energy carried by sunlight to push against hundreds of square meters of reflective, and light-weight, plastic film to move a spacecraft outwards from the sun. This required no fuel or heavy engines on the spacecraft. Solar energy is also captured by solar cells to generate electricity, which has been a staple of spacecraft design for over 50 years. NASA also uses batteries, fuel cells, Radioisotope Thermionic Generators (RTGs) and nuclear power for non-solar energy generation.(2:37 minutes)

## Related Mathematics Problems

Satellite Power Loss and the Hubble Space Telescope The Hubble Space Telescope is located in a low-Earth orbit at an altitude of about 370 kilometers, with an orbit period of about 90 minutes. The constant impact of high-energy particles on the solar panels causes a steady decrease in the power output of these panels over time. Students will study a graph showing the power from the solar panels between 2002 and 2006 and determine the rate of decrease of the power each year, and use this calculated rate to forecast the available power by the end of the mission in 2015. [Grade: 6 - 8 | Topics: Slope; percentage change; forecasting] [Download PDF]

Solar Power and Satellite Design Students perform simple surface area calculations to determine how much solar power a satellite can generate, compared to the satellite's needs. [Grade: 6 - 8 | Topics: Area of irregular polygons] [Download PDF]

Additional problems are available if you are a registered SpaceMath@NASA Educator