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CubeSats are used in space research to explore new technologies and detect data to gain a better understanding of various subjects affecting human life. CubeSats rely on a solar array to generate energy from the sun and perform their various functions in space. This research studies the energy capturing potential of various solar panel configurations and positioning devices for CubeSats. The location and orientation of a CubeSat is simulated in geo-synchronous and sun-synchronous orbits. Two degree-of-freedom (dof) positioning devices are sufficient to continuously adjust the photovoltaic array to face towards the sun. Lower dof systems are desired as they are less complex. Solar panel configurations included in the study are those affixed to the CubeSat sides, deployed into alternative stationary positions, and actuated with one dof, and with two-dof actuation with mechanical limitations. The energy captured over an annual cycle is determined for each case. For systems with fewer than two dof, optimal position settings are determined for the design parameters.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Honors Thesis

Primary Advisor

Andrew P Murray, Dave Harry Myszka

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium poster


Presenter: Justin Ehren

Energy Analysis and Orbit Simulation of Actuated CubeSat Solar Arrays