A spacecraft requires a large amount of energy to function. On-board avionics, cameras, and communication devices are only some of the materials that require electricity. We will discuss four major sources for energy in this section: batteries, solar panels, rtgs, and fuel cells. Each of these sources has its own advantages and disadvantages. Solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity, so when a spacecraft is far from the sun, or when the sunlight is blocked, it requires an alternate source of energy. Batteries, which carry stored energy, are reliable and serve as backup for solar panels when sunlight is temporarily blocked. However, they are used up quickly. Fuel cells, which convert chemical energy to electricity, are regenerable, but are very heavy.
Discover how spaceships carry their stored energy...