Last Modified: 9th February 2005 Suntracker Wayne State University ECE Dept. NASA Glenn
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Suntracker Project


Suntracker IX Launch

The Suntracker Project at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI is funded under NASA Glenn Research Center Grant NAG3-2801. The purpose of the project is to develop technology for calibrating solar cells in the stratrosphere under near air mass zero (NAM0) conditions using low-cost helium balloons and state-of-the-art communication technologies. NAM0 characterization is currently carried out by NASA with systems on aircraft and large balloons which are expensive and may be employed only at certain times of the year. The need for NAM0 characterization is becoming increasingly important for space-power applications as solar-cell fabrication technologies develop. The technological drive for higher efficiency cells leads to increasing the number of p-n junctions in solar cells in order to optimize the optoelectronic response of solar cells under AM0 spectral irradiance. Solar cells with four junctions are available commercially and solar cells with five junctions are under development. While laboratory-based solar simulator technology has improved over the past ten years, it is still very important to be able to characterize cells under NAM0 conditions in order to advance solar cell fabrication technologies and produce solar-cell standards. The solar cell short-circuit current is measured during flights. Electronics are under development to measure current-voltage characteristics during future flights.



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Maximum Altitude Flight
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Suntracker X reached a maximum altitude of 111,509 feet with 6 lbs package and 2000 gms Kaysam balloon on July 17, 2004

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Suntracker in future will measure I-V characteristics of solar cells