Satellite Solar Array Configuration for Maximum Power Output for LEO

  • Fatima M. Alketbi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


CubeSats are widely used in scientific missions because they have low development costs and they are easily manufactured compared to the traditional satellites. The power system of a CubeSat depends on solar power which is limited due the area limitation and eclipse environment. The power generation could be enhanced by adding deployable solar panels. An available MATLAB algorithm for estimating the power generation throughout the orbit was both investigated and verified in this thesis. A verification of the validity of the code was conducted by using two different tools which are the Satellite Tool Kit (STK) and CubeSat Toolbox on MATLAB. The power generation code was used to analyze the power generation throughout the orbit for two 3U CubeSat models with different solar panels configurations in LEO. Model1 is a vertical 3U CubeSat with respect to the Z direction and it includes five different solar panels configurations whereas Model2 has horizontal orientation with three different solar panels configurations. The analyses showed that, the power could be enhanced by deploying the body-mounted solar panels or by adding deployable solar panels. The results show that 90-degree deployment angle is more efficient in Model1. However, the 45-degree deployment angle is more efficient in Model2. In addition, estimations of self-shadowing effect caused by the deployable solar panels on the body-mounted solar panels and on the total power generation was carried by using the CubeSat Toolbox on MATLAB. The self-shadowing effect could reduce the power generation by almost 10% which is a critical percentage for power budget calculations.
Date of AwardMay 2020
Original languageAmerican English


  • CubeSat
  • Solar panel
  • Solar panel configuration
  • Deployable solar panels
  • Power generation
  • self-shadowing.

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