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Rovers require power to operate. Without power they cannot move, use science instruments, or communicate with Earth. The main source of power comes from a multi-panel solar array and on board batteries. The power generated by the solar array and batteries is conditioned and distributed using a complex arrangement of Power Electronics. The electronics are fully integrated with the navigation and computer electronics to save money, space, and mass, and yet still provide more than ten different voltages to various Rover hardware and systems.



Solar ArraySolar Array
Solar Panels provide power for recharging the batteries, driving the rover, running computers, lasers, motors, radio, operating scientific instruments, and heating the Warm Electronics Box (WEB). The panel is actually made up of an "array" of hundreds photovoltaic solar cells. Each cell is about the size and width of a double-edge razor blade. The cells are very light, thin, and fragile. The solar array is easily visible on Sojourner as a flat panel mounted on the top of the rover. MER have fold out panels which look "wings," but their purpose is to provide energy, not fly


During the times when there is either too little or no sunlight for the solar array, Batteries are used power the Rover hardware. Battery power is used cautiously since the batteries store only a limited amount of energy and can only be recharged when there is sun light. They are primarily used for heating the WEB at night, night time experiments and early morning operations where light levels are low. The three batteries are mounted under the solar panel in the WEB. Each battery looks something like a black flashlight tube (without end caps) and each tube has three D-size cells inside it.



When fully illuminated, the Mars Exploration Rover’s solar arrays generate about 140 watts of power for up to four hours per day. The rover needs about 100 watts, the equivalent power used by a standard house light bulb, to drive and carry out its daily tasks.

Comparatively, Sojourner's solar arrays provided around 16 watts of power at noon on Mars. That´s equivalent to the power used by a single oven light.

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