Study of Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris Effects on the Solar Panels Retrieved from the Space Station “MIR”
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A study of micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) long-term effects on solar cell samples of solar panels returned from the space station “MIR” has been carried out. Five samples from the solar array, which spent over 10 years in space, have been studied with the help of optical microscopes with magnification up to 1000. Craters with dimensions as small as 1 μm were registered. Additional large impact features were investigated by observing a large number of cells (∼150) with an optical microscope of small magnification. The aim of the study was to define morphological and statistical characteristics of samples surface damages as well as the extent of surface erosion caused by MMOD impacts. The results of statistical analysis of the data obtained in this study are shown to correlate with the experimental data obtained in the Hubble Telescope solar panel return experiment, and MMOD flux estimations are in good agreement with modern MMOD models. The relative surface area damaged by impacts of small size (1–100 μm) MMOD particles is estimated to be ∼0.01%, while the relative surface area of large impact features (greater than 0.1 mm) is estimated to be ∼0.045%.
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