To operate on the sun's light that far out requires solar panels about the size of the cargo section of a typical tractor-trailer you'd see on the interstate highway. Even with all that surface area pointed sunward, all three panels, which are 2.7 meters wide (9 feet), by 8.9 meters long (29 feet), will only generate about enough juice to power five standard light bulbs -- about 450 watts of electricity.
"In general, once we’re out at Jupiter, we need 405 watts, which is not really enough to even run your hair dryer," Gehling said. "Of those 405 watts, about half of them go toward keeping the spacecraft warm. So, the other half, somewhere in the 250 range, is to run all of the instruments and all of the avionics."
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