Saft, the leader in batteries for space, is celebrating the success of the MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout), an asteroid lander designed to research the origins of the solar system, which relied on a Saft battery system as its power source. After MASCOT disconnected from the Hayabusa 2 craft, the battery system powered four scientific instruments as well as the on-board computer, navigation sensors and communication system. In addition, the battery provided power for a ‘hopping’ mechanism to propel the lander between measurement sites on the asteroid surface, making it a first for humankind.
The non-rechargeable lithium thionyl-chloride battery system, manufactured in Poitiers, France, was selected by French space agency CNES as the sole onboard power source for MASCOT because of its extremely light weight, high electrical capacity and ability to withstand severe shock and vibration. In addition, the mission required the battery system to power up successfully after being on standby for four years during its voyage from Earth so its long shelf life was invaluable.
“The battery ensured that the mission was a great achievement as it provided 16 hours of data to asteroid researchers, a duration that was previously inconceivable for a craft with such sophisticated on-board systems,” said Annie Sennet, Executive Vice President of Saft’s Space & Defense Division. “The success builds on Saft’s 50-year experience of providing batteries for space exploration missions.”
The Hayabusa 2 orbiter travelled to the Ryugu asteroid from Earth after launching in December 2014. It deployed MASCOT on the carbon rich asteroid to study its surface. Understanding the composition of the asteroid will give insight into the early days of the solar system, including the formation of water and emergence of life on Earth. Data from MASCOT’s in-situ analysis has now been sent back to Earth for further study.
The MASCOT lander used the same battery type as the 2014’s Rosetta mission, when the European Consortium’s Philae lander touched down on a comet 720 million km from Earth. The battery on board the Philae lander provided power for 64 hours of scientific activity, demonstrating the reliability of Saft’s battery systems for space exploration missions.
Saft specializes in advanced technology battery solutions for industry, from the design and development to the production, customization and service provision. For 100 years, Saft’s longer-lasting batteries and systems have provided critical safety applications, back-up power and propulsion for our customers. Our innovative, safe and reliable technology delivers high performance on land, at sea, in the air and in space. Saft is powering industry and smarter cities, while providing critical back-up functionality in remote and harsh environments from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert. Saft is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Total, a leading international oil and gas company and a major player in low-carbon energies.
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