Rosetta relies on lithium-ion batteries
AEA Battery Systems headed to the sky once again this week, as the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft started its mission to become the first to enter a comet's orbit and land on its surface
AEA Battery Systems headed to the skies once again this week, as the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft started its mission to become the first to enter a comet's orbit and land on its surface. AEA provided lithium-ion batteries to power the Rosetta mission, which aims to study the chemical composition of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in order to shed light on the origins of the solar system.
The twelve-year mission blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana on 2nd March 2004.
AEA's rechargeable batteries are powering both the Rosetta spacecraft and its lander, Philae.
The AEA batteries were chosen primarily for their reduced size and weight - a crucial factor in space exploration.
AEA's lithium-ion batteries are approximately 50% lighter and smaller than other battery chemistries used in space exploration.
Other important factors in the choice of AEA's batteries include: temperature performance - AEA's Lithium-ion batteries can withstand both the harsh radiation and the severe cold of deep space; and reliability - a vital factor on a 12-year mission, which will take the spacecraft 675 million miles from the sun.
AEA's in-house battery software analysis tools played an important part in building an understanding of the power requirements for the mission.
Unlike spacecraft in Earth orbit, which have a regular eclipse and battery discharge cycle, Rosetta has a far more complicated mission profile.
This includes three earth orbits plus one Mars orbit as well as extended hibernation periods between system power-ups.
AEA's software was used to model the power requirements for Rosetta, providing confidence that the batteries have sufficient power for the mission.
Dr Mike Healy, Director of Earth Observation, Navigation and Science at EADS Astrium, the Rosetta prime contractor, said: "A nickel cadmium battery was the original baseline for the spacecraft.
However, the mass and volume savings offered by lithium-ion technology, coupled with the reliability and performance of AEA's battery proved much more attractive".
Dave Loughborough, Managing Director of AEA Battery Systems comments: "The Rosetta project is a further example of how AEA can supply clients with tailor-made power solutions in the most inhospitable environments known to man.
We continue to develop our rechargeable lithium-ion technology to offer benefits for space industry and terrestrial users in areas such as the defence and marine sectors".
AEA's lithium-ion battery power recently powered the Mars Express Mission, which is already being heralded as a success.
It is another first for AEA, which has more contracts for lithium-ion batteries (over 30) than any other company.
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