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space solar cell, trapped particle radiation effects, displacement damage


Solar cells are used as the primary power source for earth-orbiting satellites and as a primary/secondary power source for various missions within the solar system. However, high energy particles from the sun, planetary magnetospheres, and the galaxy can affect the performance and life expectancy of the space solar cell and associated power systems. As the interests for interplanetary travel and the exploration of planets within our solar system increase, the need to understand a device’s performance within a particular planet’s environment is necessary. Therefore, this study will analyze the performance of space solar cells, particularly the SolAero IMM-α, at various Earth and Jupiter circular orbits. This is done by using the Naval Research Lab Displacement Damage Dose (DDD) methodology by (1) obtaining particle fluence data and calculating the DDD of a specific orbit using SPENVIS; and (2) analyzing the solar cell’s performance/degradation with the given DDD. We find that for various circular Earth orbits, the most degradation for the IMM-α occurs at Low Earth Orbits of altitudes of approximately 3000-20000 km due to a high concentration of high-energy protons in the region. Similarly, the IMM-α undergoes the most degradation in the lower orbits of Jupiter, despite higher fluences of electrons as compared to Earth. These results reveal that with suitable shielding techniques, appropriately designed solar cells resistant to proton displacement damage can support long-term missions to Jupiter.