Analysis of the effects of simulated synergistic LEO environment on solar panels

G. Allegri, S. Corradi, M. Marchetti, S. Scaglione

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The effects due to the LEO environment exposure of a solar array primary structure are here presented and discussed in detail. The synergistic damaging components featuring LEO environment are high vacuum, thermal cycling, neutral gas, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and cold plasma. The synergistic effects due to these environmental elements are simulated by "on ground" tests, performed in the Space Environment Simulator (SAS) at the University of Rome "La Sapienza"; numerical simulations are performed by the Space Environment Information System (SPENVIS), developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). A "safe life" design for a solar array primary structure is developed, taking into consideration the combined damaging action of the LEO environment components; therefore results from both numerical and experimental simulations are coupled within the framework of a standard finite element method (FEM) based design. The expected durability of the solar array primary structure, made of laminated sandwich composite, is evaluated assuming that the loads exerted on the structure itself are essentially dependent on thermo-elastic stresses. The optical degradation of surface materials and the stiffness and strength degradation of structural elements are taken into account to assess the global structural durability of the solar array under characteristic operative conditions in LEO environment. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175 - 185
Number of pages11
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering

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