What is ROSA?
Engineers at NASA did something really interesting and ground breaking by deploying the Roll-Out Solar Array(ROSA). It is a flexible light weight solar panel roll which can be remotely operated from earth. Now you see that the traditional solar panels which solar power satellites are heavy panels folded together using mechanical hinges. NASA held an experiment @ISS in which a solar array rolls to form a compact cylinder. So it launches from a compact roll out cylinder with significantly low mass and volume. Which potentially offers substantial cost savings as well as an increase in solar power for satellite. The Roll-Out Solar Array, or ROSA, consists of a center wing made of a flexible material containing photovoltaic cells which convert light into electricity. On either side of the wing is a narrow arm that extends the length of the wing to provide support. Which is a high strain composite boom. The booms are like split tubes consisting a stiff composite material, flattened and rolled up lengthwise for launch. The array rolls or snaps open without a motor and uses the stored energy from the structure of the booms that releases as each boom transitions from a coil shape to a straight support arm.
ROSA has the potential to make solar arrays more compact and lighter weight for satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other services used on Earth. In addition, the technology can conceivably adapt to provide solar power in remote locations. The technology of the booms has additional potential applications, such as for communications and radar antennas and other instruments.
ROSA was developed as part of the Solar Electric Propulsion project sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA tested the ROSA technology in vacuum chambers on Earth several years ago, and this is its first test in space. This solar array technology was developed to power large spacecraft using highly-efficient electric propulsion. The use of ROSA on missions to deep space including Mars and the moon can prove to be ground breaking.