AEA Battery Systems powers first comet landing

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 August 2004


(2004), "AEA Battery Systems powers first comet landing", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 76 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

AEA Battery Systems powers first comet landing

AEA Battery Systems powers first comet landing

AEA Battery Systems headed to the skies recently, as the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft started its mission to become the first to enter a comet's orbit and land on its surface.

AEA provided lithium-ion batteries to power the Rosetta mission, which aims to study the chemical composition of Comet 67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko, in order to shed light on the origins of the solar system. AEA's re-chargeable batteries are powering both the Rosetta spacecraft and its lander, Philae. The AEA batteries were chosen primarily for their reduced size and weight – a crucial factor in space exploration. AEA's lithium-ion batteries are approximately 50 per cent lighter and smaller than other battery chemistries used in space exploration. Other important factors in the choice of AEA's batteries include:

  1. 1.

    Temperature performance – AEA's Lithium-ion batteries can withstand both the harsh radiation and the severe cold of deep space; and

  2. 2.

    Reliability – a vital factor on a 12-year mission, which will take the spacecraft 675 million miles from the Sun.

AEA's in-house battery software analysis tools played an important part in building an understanding of the power requirements for the mission. Unlike spacecraft in Earth orbit, which have a regular eclipse and battery discharge cycle, Rosetta has a far more complicated mission profile. This includes three earth orbits plus one Mars orbit as well as extended hibernation periods between system power-ups. AEA's software was used to model the power requirements for Rosetta, providing confidence that the batteries have sufficient power for the mission.