Lithium battery is key to comet landing attempt

Lithium battery is key to comet landing attempt

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By eeNews Europe

The Philae Lander, carried onboard the spacecraft, has woken successfully from its deep space hibernation and is now preparing to be the first ever craft to make a controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus later today.

The Rosetta spacecraft was launched in March 2004 and has now travelled more than forty times Earth’s distance from the Sun, including 31 months in deep space hibernation when most of its systems were powered down. Rosetta was woken up in early 2014 and is now in orbit around the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Saft’s LSH20 primary lithium battery is part of the 100 kg Philae Lander craft, which is a key part of the Rosetta mission. The lander is planned to touchdown onto the surface of the comet today.  The goal is to study the composition of the comet dust and ice structure for around  four months as it travels towards the warmer inner reaches of the solar system. Ten instruments on board Philae will obtain the first images from a comet’s surface and make the first in-situ analysis of a comet’s composition. As the comet is believed to contain the basic ingredients for life, it may shed light on how life started on Earth.

The batteries on board the Philae Lander are central to the entire mission’s success and power the lander’s on-board systems including scientific equipment as well as supporting the transmission of experimental results to Earth.

Saft’s primary lithium technology has a low rate of self-discharge, which is invaluable to the mission as it ensured that maximum power is available for the mission-critical operations even after the 10-year voyage from Earth. The cells have a robust design that ensures reliable operation even when subjected the extreme shocks, accelerations and temperatures experienced in spaceflight.

"Saft is delighted with the performance of our lithium battery on the Rosetta mission," said Yannick Borthomieu, Satellite and Lander Battery Product Manager for Saft’s Specialty Battery Group. "As the first craft to make a controlled touchdown on a comet, Philae is the latest in a long list of Saft’s space firsts."

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