According to a report from UNOOSA, at present, in Space there are total 4,987 satellites are spinning around the earth. These Satellites are continuously providing us information related to weather, location, television, science, etc., many of them have been continuously revolving around the earth for many years and doing their duties without any interruption. Now you must be thinking that we all know this thing, right? but do you know that where from these satellites are getting the energy to work continuously in space? What is the real energy source of satellites in the space?
Every machine needs an energy source to work, which keeps it running, some machines run by electricity, so some machines from the battery, Similarly, satellites also require energy to work properly, And the energy that the satellite requires is electrical energy. But in the space where there is no system to get electricity, how does the satellite get electrical energy? Which is the electrical energy source of satellites in the space?
Energy Source Of Satellites In Space
So as I said that the satellite requires electrical energy to work smoothly in space, and in the space, the satellites get electrical energy not from one but from 3 different sources. The three electrical energy source of satellites in the space are 1. Solar Power 2. Fuel Power 3. Nuclear Power. The role of these three sources depends on different conditions and situations, and according to them, they are used. So let’s know a little bit more about each source…
Solar Power is the most prominent source of energy in satellites. Solar power is the most economical and easiest way to provide energy to satellites. There are lots of solar arrays connected in a satellite, which we often see in photos and videos. Every solar array has a lot of small solar cells, which absorbs energy from the sunlight, and then converts that energy into electrical energy to provide energy to the satellites.
Usually, the solar cells used in most of the satellites are wafer-based crystalline silicon cells, which is also known as thin-film cells. Which can convert only 20% of the light receiving from the Sun is into electricity. However, in very recent, the best development has been made in solar technology, under which some new solar systems have been built, in which Gallium Arsenide based cells are being used instead of silicon cells. And these new cells have so much potential that they can convert 25% of the light received from the sun into electrical energy.
These solar cells, which are used in the satellites, also have some specific scales defined on which they are selected, such as the surface area that should be sufficient, how much electricity is generated per unit, and the most important, the material of solar cells that can face the rapidly changing temperature of space. All these parameters have been determined to keep in mind all the good and bad conditions of space.
As I mentioned, solar power is usually the main energy source of satellites in space but in certain situations, Fuel Cells has to be used, such as environmental conditions, in which satellites do not get the required sunlight or temperature beyond the range of operating temperature of solar cells. Just as in the solar power process, solar energy is converted into electrical energy, in fuel Cells method, Fuel (Hydrogen or Hydrogen sources) and oxidizer(Oxygen or air) produced electric energy. However, this method of generating energy is slightly costly as compared to solar power, but in this way, the highest energy can be generated. Currently, the fuel Cells cannot be used on CubeSats but the research is running on this topic and very soon we got the positive results.
There are also some satellites in space, which run on nuclear power rather than solar power. The use of nuclear power as an energy source of satellites in space usually happens in some certain situations only, such as in situations where few hundred watts or less energy is needed but for a long time. Here I used “for a long time” word, for a time period till which no any batteries or generators can able to work. Now a question arises here, why do not we use fuel cells in this situation? But due to such long-term use, fuel cells will be economically expensive, therefore, in such situations, generating electrical energy from nuclear power is a perfect option.
In order to use Nuclear power as energy, heat energy is converted into electrical energy, for this, the heat is obtained from the decay of radioactive particles. In order to use Nuclear power as energy, heat energy is converted into electrical energy, for this, the heat is obtained from the decay of radioactive particles. After that, a small part of the heat energy gets converted into electricity. Then the remaining heat is taken out through the radiators. At the same time, the use of a part of the disallowed heat for the thermal control of the spacecraft sub-systems can reduce the wastage of heat energy.
So this is everything about the energy source of satellites in space. Hopefully, you know now that which is the exact energy source of satellites in space, but still, if you have any questions in your mind regarding this topic so you can ask us in the comments section.