The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 17 June 2017 tested the effectiveness of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) on the Space Station for the very first time. ROSA is an advanced flexible solar array that rolls out like a tape measure.
NASA engineers remotely attached the ROSA to the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2. ROSA will remain be attached to the Canadarm2 over seven days.
NASA had earlier tested the ROSA technology in vacuum chambers on Earth several years ago.
About Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA)
• ROSA was developed as a part of the Solar Electric Propulsion project sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
• This solar array technology was developed to power large spacecraft using highly-efficient electric propulsion on missions to deep space including Mars and the moon.
• The design of solar array rolls up to form a compact cylinder for launch with significantly less mass and volume, offering substantial cost savings as well as an increase in power for satellites.
• The ROSA investigation tests deployment and retraction, shape changes when the Earth blocks the Sun and other physical challenges to determine the array’s strength and durability.
• It is very much flexible so that it can be adapted to different sizes including very large arrays.
• It will be an asset for satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other services used on the Earth.
• It is smaller and lighter than the traditional panels and has a centre wing build of a flexible material containing photovoltaic cells to convert light into electricity.
• Its narrow arm extends on both the sides of the wing to provide support called a High Strain Composite Boom. These booms are like split tubes made of a stiff composite material.