A spacecraft solar array is subjected to large temperature excursions, varying insolation (the amount of sunlight falling on the array), mechanical changes and aging, which substantially effect both its short and long term performance. In order to test the spacecraft's power environment, a cost-effective solution for ground based testing is to utilize a solar array simulator.
The Elgar SAS system reproduces all possible solar array outputs, based on the wide variety of input conditions that an array faces, including orbital rotation, spin, axis alignment, eclipse events, beginning-of-life and end-of-life operation. The SAS also provides complete programmable control of all the parameters that shape the solar cell I/V output curve. By being able to accurately simulate solar panels under various space conditions with complete control, a system developer can comprehensively verify design margins and quickly test, in production, spacecraft power systems and their associated electronics.
Each Solar Array Simulator is a fully integrated, turn-key system complete with Windows NT graphical user interface and hardware control software. It can be remotely controlled and addressable as a single device when integrated into a customer's test system. This control is accomplished via a standard ethernet or optional GPIB interface using standard SCPI format commands.
As a very important consideration in spacecraft testing, discrete hardware protection systems are a standard part of every SAS. These include subsystems that can remove power at the output of the SAS in under 10 microseconds. Each SAS string has an electronic circuit breaker and relay disconnect, so faults are localized and minimize disruption of the last process. SAS systems have been designed and delivered ranging from desktop, 2 channel, R&D units to systems capable of controlling two 64 channel SAS systems simultaneously. AMETEK's Engineered Solutions Group can assist in defining special requirements and customize each system using a standard building block approach. This allows each customer to get exactly what id needed while minimizing costs.
Features And Benefits
- Spin mode is a dynamic mode intended to provide a simulation of a spinning satellite.
- Enhanced Eclipse mode is a dynamic mode that allows the user to easily program and initiate an eclipse event with total control over all of the V-I curve parameters and dwell times.
- Operates with Sequential Shunt Regulators and Maximum Power Point Trackers
- Multiple redundant OVP/OIP layers
Total Control Of I/V Behavior. AMETEK's Fast Profiling Current Source (FPCS) provides the ability to simulate real world solar array power more accurately than other technologies by allowing programmable control of all four parameters necessary to independently control the characteristic I/V diode output curve, or profile, of each FPCS channel.
In addition, the user may choose the nonparametric mode of operation and program I/V curves unique to the application. The basic building block of an Elgar SAS is the FPCS. Each FPCS module simulates either one or two array strings, or can be series or paralleled with other FPCS modules to simulate larger array segments.
Each FPCS channel delivers 450W or 500W of power; 2 channels are housed in a single 5-1/4" chassis. Open circuit voltage and short circuit current are scaled to meet a customer's
- Total control of I/V behavior
- Designed to operate at the knee
- Fast profiling current source
- Bus overvoltage protection
- Hardware shutdown system
- Multiple master SAS systems can be connected to create very large SAS systems
- Customer defined output connectors