National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Date of this Version



Solar Energy 85 (2011) 1899–1905


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Sensors for detecting micrometeorite impact locations and magnitudes as well as pressure vessel leaks have been under investigation for some time by the NASA Langley Research Center and other related entities. NASA has been investigating the use of the Distribution Impact Detection System (DIDS) for use on the International Space Station (ISS). However, the DIDS currently requires thionyl chloride lithium batteries which pose explosion and toxicity hazards, and replacing batteries is tedious and utilizes scarce man-hours. Carrying replacement batteries into space is also expensive. To hardwire new sensing devices into the ISS while in orbit would be time consuming. To overcome this problem, high efficiency GaAs solar cells have been studied under low light conditions comparable to those found inside the ISS. The cells were also studied for temperature dependence. Solar concentrators were investigated for possible use with ambient lighting. The power generated by the cells was stored in a large 300 F supercapacitor. A DC to DC boost regulator was modified to produce an output voltage of 3.55 V that is required by the DIDS. The successful operation of the DIDS with ambient light power, supercapacitor energy storage, and boost regulation was demonstrated.