Watch: Huge solar wing unfurled prior to satellite launch


EarthCARE is a mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) intending to find answers to questions about the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incident solar radiation back out to space and also trapping infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface.

In preparation for launch, engineers unfolded the satellite’s five-panel solar wing to test it before it’s sent into space.

While the suite of instruments is impressive, the single 36-foot solar wing, which in orbit will be outstretched at the rear of the satellite, is essential as it will provide the power needed for the mission.

“We are extremely happy to say that the solar wing deployment test went very well. The timely and complete deployment of the large solar wing soon after launch is crucial to the mission,” said ESA’s Mehrdad Rezazad.

To perform the test, each of the five panels were supported by wires. After the launch, the five panels that make up the wing will be held together by ties, which will be cut by a set of thermal knives, thus unfolding the wing behind the satellite.

With the first solar array deployment test successfully completed, the various vibration and thermal-vacuum tests are next.

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