Country of Origin: United States of America
3-D Test: 30.5 x 3.5 x 20.3cm (12 x 1 3/8 x 8 in.)
Solar cells and connections: Silicon, glass, copper, plastic
Other: Kapton, solder, epoxy, stainless steel
This test panel of solar cells was used by COMSAT Laboratories to study the performance of the type of cells used on the Intelsat V communications satellites, thirteen of which were orbited over the period 1980-1989. Solar cells are a critical technology for communications satellites, essential in providing power to the spacecraft over a period of years.
COMSAT used this panel in its testing facilities to simulate the range of conditions that satellite solar cells encounter in the space environment and how the performance of the cells changes over time. An important part of this testing program was to keep the satellite panel under simulation conditions for the life of a satellite. This approach enabled COMSAT to troubleshoot more effectively any problems that might occur with the satellite solar cells in space.
COMSAT Laboratories donated this artifact to the Museum in 1999.
Gift of COMSAT Laboratories.