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An autonomous and portable tester for solar arrays

Due to their outside location, solar arrays are submitted to low performance risks. The risks become increasingly high, especially for those arrays that are used for space purposes and are subject to continuous relocation. Based on an innovative testing principle, the Mini Flasher Testing System (MFTS) has been developed to check the performance of solar arrays in a fast, reliable and completely independent way.
An autonomous and portable tester for solar arrays
The power for many space scientific discoveries comes from solar arrays. Converting solar into electrical energy, solar arrays are extensively used in both space and non-space applications, in which they are subject to many performance-limiting factors, such as regular transportation and environmental conditions. For this reason, regular testing is required in order to ensure increased reliability, not only for those systems that are currently in use, but also for new systems as well.

The new Mini Flasher Testing System (MFTS) offers performance checks of solar arrays and it heavily relies on a newly developed concept for testing purposes. Its underlying idea is the exploitation of a high-power, totally autonomous photoflash system for the production of the light pulse that allows the system's full independence from calibration, and the system's portability.

The system comprises the control and measurement, and the photoflasher subsystems as key components with accessories such as baffles and mats that prevent unwanted light (coming from reflections or other sources) to affect the testing results. It features small-stepped wide-spectrum measurements for increased accuracy, increased capabilities of testing solar arrays of varying sizes and types, and printouts of results.

The life cycle of a solar array system is highly dependent on its inspection. Low performance of space solar array systems result in insufficient power supply with considerable economical stakes. Hence, monitoring its performance on a regular basis assures its long life operation and prevents its early replacement. The MFTS provides its users with a cost-effective and high-quality inspection solution.
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