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Electrostatic Discharge Testing of Multijunction Solar Array Coupons After Combined Space Environmental Exposures

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7 Author(s)
Kenneth H. Wright ; Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research, University of Alabama-Huntsville , Huntsville, AL, USA ; Todd A. Schneider ; Jason A. Vaughn ; Bao Hoang
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A set of multijunction GaAs/Ge solar array test coupons provided by Space Systems/Loral was subjected to a sequence of five-year increments of combined space environmental exposure tests. The test coupons capture an integrated design intended for use in a geosynchronous (GEO) space environment. A key component of this test campaign is performing electrostatic discharge (ESD) tests in the inverted gradient mode. The protocol of the ESD tests is based on the ISO standard for ESD testing on solar array panels [ISO-11221]. The test schematic in the ISO reference has been modified with Space System/Loral designed circuitry to better simulate the on-orbit operational conditions of its solar array design. Part of the modified circuitry is to simulate a solar array panel coverglass flashover discharge. All solar array coupons used in the test campaign consist of four cells constructed to form two strings. The ESD tests are performed at the beginning-of-life (BOL) and at each five-year environmental exposure point. The space environmental exposure sequence consists of ultraviolet radiation, electron/proton particle radiation, thermal cycling, and xenon ion thruster plume erosion. This paper discusses the coverglass flashover simulation, the ESD test setup, and the importance of the electrical test design in simulating the on-orbit operational conditions. Results from fifth-year testing are compared to the baseline ESD characteristics determined at the BOL condition.

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IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:40 ,  Issue: 2 )