Space technology keeps Nuna II ahead of the pack

October 21, 2003

Nuna II, raced by the Nuon Solar Team, and aided by ESA space technology, reached Cadney Homestead, 152 km north of Coober Pedy, at 13:30 local time (06:00 CEST), increasing their lead to 46 minutes over Aurora of Melbourne, in second place. The MIT Tessaract car is just a few minutes behind Aurora. Both incurred a flat tire on this third leg.

With the help of space technology

After winning in 2001 with Nuna I, the Nuon Solar Team, from the Netherlands, are not only bidding to retain their title but also hoping to break their own record. The team of twelve from Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam are trying to average 100 km/h, compared to 91.81 km/h in 2001.

Nuna II uses advanced space technology, provided to the team through ESA's Technology Transfer Programme, enabling the car to reach a theoretical top speed of over 170 km/h. The aerodynamically optimised outer shell consists of space-age reinforced plastics to keep it light and strong. The main body is made from reinforced carbon fibre and aramide, a material used in satellites, but nowadays also in high-performance equipment such as bulletproof vests.

The car's shell is covered with the best triple-junction gallium arsenide solar cells, developed for satellites. The same cells are being tested on the SMART-1 satellite launched to the moon on 28 September this year. Nuna II also carries Maximum Power Point Trackers, small devices that guarantee an optimal balance between power from the battery and the solar cells, even in less favourable situations like shade and cloud.
-end-


European Space Agency

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