Power from sunlight - Powering space exploration with solar energy

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In this set of activities from the European Space Agency, students learn about two concepts that influence solar panel design for space missions: the inverse square law and the angle of incidence. There are instructions on two simple investigations using a photovoltaic cell (solar cell) and a light source. The first asks students to measure how the power produced by the solar cells varies with distance from the light source and attempt to retrieve the inverse square law for light intensity experimentally. Students then conduct a second experiment to investigate the dependence of the power output for the solar cell with the angle of incidence. In concluding the activity, students apply these concepts to real ESA space missions.

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