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Deutsch: Aktives Material / Español: Material activo / Português: Material ativo / Français: Matériau actif / Italiano: Materiale attivo

Active material in the space industry context refers to substances or materials that have a functional role in the operation and performance of space vehicles and equipment, particularly through their involvement in energy storage and generation systems. These materials are essential for a range of applications, from providing power to enabling various technological functions within spacecraft.


Image demonstrating Active Material in the space industry context
Active Material

Active material typically refers to the chemically or physically active components in devices like batteries, fuel cells, and solar panels. These materials are responsible for the conversion of stored chemical or solar energy into electrical energy, which is crucial for powering spacecraft systems. The effectiveness, durability, and efficiency of these energy systems are directly influenced by the properties and performance of the active materials used.

Application Areas

  1. Batteries: In spacecraft batteries, active materials in the electrodes undergo chemical reactions to store and release electrical energy. The choice of active material affects the battery’s capacity, charge/discharge rates, and operational lifespan.
  2. Solar Cells: The active materials in solar cells, typically semiconductors like silicon or compounds like gallium arsenide, absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity. These materials must be highly efficient at energy conversion and capable of operating in the harsh space environment.
  3. Fuel Cells: For missions where solar power is insufficient, such as deep-space explorations, fuel cells with active materials can provide a reliable power source. These materials facilitate the electrochemical reactions necessary to generate power from fuel like hydrogen.

Well-Known Examples

  • International Space Station (ISS): The ISS uses solar panels with silicon and gallium arsenide as active materials for power generation, critical for sustaining its various systems and experiments.
  • Mars Rovers (e.g., Curiosity, Perseverance): These rovers are equipped with batteries and solar panels that utilize advanced active materials designed to withstand the extreme temperatures and radiation levels on Mars.

Treatment and Risks

Managing active materials involves addressing several key issues:

  • Degradation: Active materials can degrade over time due to exposure to harsh environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures, vacuum, and radiation in space.
  • Supply and Cost: Some active materials, especially those used in high-efficiency solar cells, are rare or expensive to produce, impacting the overall cost and feasibility of space missions.
  • Safety: Certain active materials, particularly those used in batteries and fuel cells, can be volatile or reactive, requiring careful handling and robust containment systems to ensure safety.


In the space industry, active material plays a critical role in the energy systems of spacecraft, influencing both the performance and reliability of missions. These materials are at the heart of technologies that convert and manage energy, making them indispensable in the advancement of space exploration and technology.


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