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VIDEO: See NASA's Flexible Solar Array Roll Out in Space

Jun 23, 2017 12:26 PM EDT
Roll-Out Solar Array Experiment (ROSA) Deploys on International Space Station
NASA's new solar array called ROSA was deployed on the ISS last weekend. The new technology has a roll-out design that eliminates bulky and heavy panels.
(Photo : NASA Johnson/YouTube Screenshot)

NASA rolled out its new and innovative solar array on the International Space Station (ISS). The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) was deployed last weekend from June 17 to June 18 were remotely controlled by engineers using the Canadarm2 of the ISS to extract ROSA from SpaceX Dragon.

NASA recently released the video of ROSA rolling out in space to give the public an idea how the new solar array works. According to NASA, ROSA will remain attached to Canadarm2 for the next seven days to test its features. ROSA is an intriguing new solar technology because it rolls out like a tape measure to harvest energy from the sun.

"Solar panels are an efficient way to power satellites, but they are delicate and large and must be unfolded when a satellite arrives in orbit," a NASA official said in a statement. "The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) is a new type of solar panel that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs,"

Roll-Out Solar Array Design

In the future, ROSA's technology may eliminate the use of bulky and heavy solar panels stitched together with mechanical hinges. With ROSA, it is simpler due to its design. ROSA rolls out from a cylinder and is less bulky and lesser when it comes to mass and volume. Using ROSA's design, solar panels could be made with lesser costs while increasing satellite power supply. ROSA was also designed to be more flexible compared to older solar arrays. It can change its shape and retraction depending on the environment especially when the Earth blocks the sun.

The roll out the solar array was developed under the Solar Electric Propulsion project, a project funded by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. Before sending the ROSA to space, NASA tested the technology here on Earth by using vacuum chambers. Currently, this is the first time for the technology to be tested in space.

ROSA and Mars

ROSA is developed to provide high-efficient electric propulsion for deep space explorations especially the journey to Mars. The new solar array design will be used to power large spacecraft and during missions on Mars and the moon.

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