The Nuna team celebrates its victory

by European Space Agency

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Nuna car

8 November 2002

After crossing Australia in record-breaking time to win the World Solar Challenger, Nuna is now touring Europe. The tour, which commenced in Stockholm, will take Nuna to 35 cities in 12 European countries.

Nuna, in its special trailer complete with audio and video equipment, will be on display in schools or museums from 8.30 in the morning until 5 in the evening. Accompanying the car on its travels are two members of the Dutch Alpha Centauri team. As they are the ones who designed and built the car - and drove it to success in the challenge - they will be able to explain to visitors the car’s design and the use made of space technology and solar energy.

ESA supplied the Alpha-Centauri team with technology first designed for use in space through its Technology Transfer Programme. Material used included space-age plastic designed for satellites to keep the body light and strong, a new kind of solar cell that will have its first test in space in early 2003, and maximum power point trackers to guarantee an optimal balance between power from the battery and solar cells, even when the sun is hidden by clouds. Last but not least Nuna had a small strip of solar cells on the side of the car to power the communication equipment. These were rather special solar cells as they were originally used on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and brought back from space by ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier in 1993.

The Nuna team celebrates its victory

The hard work and dedication of the Dutch students, plus a little help from ESA and Dutch sponsors, ensured that Nuna not only came first in the race but also broke records. Nuna’s average speed of 91 km/hour set a new record as did the total time taken to cover the 3010 km – just 32 hours 39 minutes.

The Nuna tour has been organised by ESA, to interest the young and not so young in science, space and technology; to demonstrate how space technology can benefit our daily lives and to illustrate the benefits of using renewable energy sources. Check on the Nuna tour dates to see if Nuna will soon be visiting a town near you or for more information contact: