17 April 2023
5N Plus solar cells powering ESA’s mission to Jupiter
Specialty semiconductor and performance materials producer 5N Plus Inc of Montreal, Québec, Canada says it has played a key role in enabling the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) mission, with high-end triple-junction solar cell technology from subsidiary AZUR SPACE Solar Power GmbH of Heilbronn, Germany (acquired in 2021, which makes multi-junction solar cells based on III-V compound semiconductor materials).
The environment around Jupiter is characterized by low sunlight intensity and low ambient temperature (LILT) as well as harsh particle radiation, which represent extremely demanding operating conditions for solar cells. After extensive research and testing, AZUR’s specific 3G28 proprietary solar cell technology was selected by ESA’s engineers to cover Juice’s 85m2 of solar arrays, the largest ever built for interplanetary spacecraft. The specific 3G28 solar cells, which were laid down by Leonardo in Italy and integrated by Airbus Defence and Space in the Netherlands, were considered to be the best solar cells for their unique capacity to make solar power work in Jupiter’s dark and gloomy space. Accordingly, NASA’s future Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter moon Europa is also employing AZUR’s 3G28 solar cells.
“It continues to be a privilege for 5N Plus to work in partnership with the world’s leading space agencies, such as ESA and NASA, to help, quite literally, push the boundaries of solar-powered space missions,” says 5N Plus’ president & CEO Gervais Jacques.