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I found this image of the ISS in a folder on my computer. I don't know the exact source but a reverse image search shows it in many different websites. Unfortunately I can't pin down a date.

What are the stacked flat plates shown in the cropped image?

It seems strange, the middle ones are shielded from space and sunlight by the ones on either side.

Credit is likely NASA, but can't be sure. Here's an undated instance: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-awards-international-space-station-cargo-transport-contracts

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ i.stack.imgur.com/AKsPR.jpg $\endgroup$ – Muze Feb 10 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Muze oh that's much better than the previous one! Still, the images in the question are sufficient. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 10 at 17:24
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They are folded-up solar panels on the Russian FGB module ("Zarya"). Folded up so they don't interfere with the truss-mounted radiator panels, and not needed since the large ISS solar arrays were added.

Zarya shortly after launch

enter image description here

Annotated photo of an early, interestingly asymmetrical ISS assembly stage showing they are solar arrays (PVA = Photo Voltaic Array) and without the truss mounted radiators fully deployed. (TRRJ = Thermal Radiator Rotary Joint) "Foreword" should read "Forward"

enter image description here

Angle shot that shows how the FGB arrays could interfere with the fully deployed radiators if the solar arrays were still fully extended. (ignore "unity module" callout)

enter image description here

All photos NASA, annotations from here

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    $\begingroup$ wow there's a lot going on in that image! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 10 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ The original is one of my faves. Note the shuttle robot arm holding the inspection boom under the shuttle belly so the instruments on it are protected from the undocking of the Soyuz from which the picture was taken. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 10 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ oh, I found the inspection so interesting I hadn't stopped to wonder where the photo was taken from. I'll give this a more thorough look in the morning... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 10 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Why do the ISS' Thermal Rotary Radiators need to tilt? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 11 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ Apart from that one panel that isn't @uhoh -- but rejecting most of the energy from the sun still leaves more than enough to impact cooling efficiency $\endgroup$ – JCRM Feb 11 at 20:13

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