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Combined Contamination and Space Environmental Effects on Solar Cells and Thermal Control SurfacesFor spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO), contamination can occur from thruster fuel, sputter contamination products and from products of silicone degradation. This paper describes laboratory testing in which solar cell materials and thermal control surfaces were exposed to simulated spacecraft environmental effects including contamination, atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation and thermal cycling. The objective of these experiments was to determine how the interaction of the natural LEO environmental effects with contaminated spacecraft surfaces impacts the performance of these materials. Optical properties of samples were measured and solar cell performance data was obtained. In general, exposure to contamination by thruster fuel resulted in degradation of solar absorptance for fused silica and various thermal control surfaces and degradation of solar cell performance. Fused silica samples which were subsequently exposed to an atomic oxygen/vacuum ultraviolet radiation environment showed reversal of this degradation. These results imply that solar cells and thermal control surfaces which are susceptible to thruster fuel contamination and which also receive atomic oxygen exposure may not undergo significant performance degradation. Materials which were exposed to only vacuum ultraviolet radiation subsequent to contamination showed slight additional degradation in solar absorptance.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Dever, Joyce A.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Bruckner, Eric J.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Scheiman, David A.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Stidham, Curtis R.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1994
Subject Category
Chemistry And Materials (General)
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:106592
AIAA PAPER 94-2627
Meeting Information
AIAA Aerospace Ground Testing Conference(Colorado Springs, CO)
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 474-46-10
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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