This decision followed an earlier round of investigation with promising results, during which the company’s flexible, monolithically integrated copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) solar module was subjected to environmental extremes and continued to operate well.
During the first phase of JAXA’s evaluation, Ascent’s PV was successfully tested below -146°C (-231°F) and up to +190°C (+374°F), and to only 4% of the sunlight generally received in earth’s orbit. In addition, JAXA has also subjected Ascent’s PV to radiation and mechanical testing.
“JAXA’s Jovian mission is a testament to the advancements being made in orbit, both in terms of its objectives, as well as the extremes in which the vehicle is required to operate,” stated Dr. Joseph Armstrong, CTO and founder of Ascent Solar. “Missions of this type traditionally use fragile crystalline solar cells that require additional structure for protection. Our lightweight, flexible technology can take advantage of novel array construction that provides higher performance in a more economical package. JAXA has decided to investigate lower-cost flexible thin-film solar technology in conjunction with a solar sail concept that was first demonstrated on their IKAROS project in 2010. Our PV will be used in conjunction with a solar sail design that would provide both propulsion, as well as lightweight electrical power for the mission.”