The European laser communication satellite EDRS-C, launched last week, is powered by a new generation of solar panels developed by Airbus Defence & Space in Leiden. The Advanced Rigid Array Mark 4 (ARA Mk4) produces up to 12 percent more energy per square meter and is more sturdy, despite being cheaper to manufacture. Airbus chose to design for wider temperature margins than necessary for EDRS-C’s mission, so the ARA Mk4 can also be used in future space projects that face more extreme conditions.
The European Data Satellite System (EDRS) is the world’s first optical satellite communication network in geostationary orbit. It allows Sentinel-2 earth observation satellites to immediately send their data to earth, instead of having to wait for a ground station to come within range. This means, for example, that emergency management quickly has access to observations in case of a natural disaster.