New research from the Universities of Surrey and Swansea has shown that it is possible to produce low-cost, lightweight solar panels that can generate energy in space. The study followed a satellite over six years, observing how the panels generated power and withstood solar radiation. The findings suggest that commercially viable solar farms in space could be feasible. The solar cells used in the study were made from cadmium telluride and were larger, lighter, and more powerful than current technology. They were also relatively inexpensive to manufacture. Instruments designed by scientists from the University of Surrey measured the performance of the panels in orbit. While the efficiency of the cells decreased over time, the study provides evidence that solar power satellites can work reliably and could be commercially successful. The successful test flight of the new solar cell technology has led to opportunities for further development. The researchers believe that this demonstration will enhance the UK’s reputation in space technology and contribute to the growing market for large area solar arrays for space applications.

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