How is the Solar Generator Laboratory equipped?
The Laboratory contains a selection of very specific equipment to simulate the space environment as well as aging chambers that allow for accelerated lifetime testing of different solar cell and photovoltaic array designs. These are as follows:
Solar simulators – These are light sources designed to reproduce the unfiltered solar spectrum beyond the atmosphere. The Laboratory has two types of solar simulators.
One is a permanent light source known as the Solar Simulator (SOSIM) illuminating a circle of about 3 to 10 cm diameter. This is used for research and development activities as well as in-orbit power degradation studies.
In addition a mobile Pulsed Solar Simulator (LAPSS) is used during solar array integration and spacecraft test campaign, allowing a large area of solar panels or complete solar generators of up to 10 square metres on a fully integrated spacecraft, to be tested with a pulse of less than 10 milliseconds.
Thermal chambers– these enable accelerated aging tests of photovoltaic array technologies on multiple mounts measuring up to 35 by 35 cm each.
There are two types of chamber, one delivering a temperature range between -180°C and +170°C, covering all orbits around the Earth, Moon, Mars and the Lagrange points.
For very high temperature missions a different chamber is required, offering a temperature range between -180°C and +350°C.
Spectral Response Equipment (SRE) – This is the standard equipment required to accurately measure and characterise multi-junction solar cells. Operating in a wavelength range of interest from ultraviolet and visible light to the infrared, the spectral response of the solar cell is measured in wavelength increments of 10 nanometres.
Last update: 4 September 2013