1984-10-01

The Effect of Bipropellant Thruster Contaminant on Solar Array Performance 841526

A large number of spacecraft scheduled to be launched in the 1980's and 1990's will utilize bipropellant attitude control thrusters. Contaminants generated during the pulse mode operation of these thrusters may impinge on the solar arrays. Over a ten-year operational lifetime, the accumulated contaminant may degrade the power output of the solar arrays.
An experimental program was conducted to determine the effect of bipropellant thruster contaminants on a solar array. A representative contaminant was produced in the laboratory and was applied to three mini-solar arrays covering approximately 32, 41, and 57 percent of the surface area. A fourth uncontaminated mini-solar array was included to provide a basis for comparison. Pre- and post-contamination testing was conducted using a pulsed xenon solar simulator. A maximum degradation in solar array electrical power output of three percent was measured for the sample with 57 percent of the surface area covered with the contaminant.

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