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SolAero wins contract for NASA Jupiter mission

An artist rendering of the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter featuring solar panels manufactured by SolAero Technologies Corp. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Courtesy: NASA)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s SolAero Technologies Corp. has won a contract from NASA to design, make and test solar panels for a proposed mission to Jupiter’s  Europa moon.

The solar panels for the proposed Europa Clipper will use high-efficiency solar cells optimized for the low-intensity sunlight and low temperatures of interplanetary missions, the company said in a news release on the contract award.

NASA’s planned Europa mission will conduct a detailed reconnaissance of Europa and investigate whether the icy moon harbors conditions suitable for life.

SolAero has worked with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the past, providing power plants for the MAVEN mission to Mars, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer and others.

SolAero said in its news release that the solar cells to be used for the Europa Clipper currently power more than 185 Earth orbiting satellites and interplanetary spacecraft.

“SolAero is proud to support NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with solar panels for this extraordinary mission to Europa,” Brad Clevenger, CEO of SolAero Technologies, said in the statement. “For two decades, we have consistently been able to meet the challenges posed by NASA’s most demanding missions and we remain committed to ensuring that they can rely on SolAero for the highest quality, most affordable satellite and spacecraft solutions available.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.