Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Kira Abercromby

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


An LED-based solar simulator has been designed, constructed, and qualified under ASTM standards for use in the Cal Poly Space Environments Laboratory. The availability of this simulator will enhance the capability of undergraduate students to evaluate solar cell and thermal coating performance, and offers further research opportunities. The requirements of ASTM E927-19 for solar simulators intended for photovoltaic cell testing were used primarily, supplemented by information from ASTM E491-73 for solar simulators intended for spacecraft thermal vacuum testing. Three main criteria were identified as design goals - spectral match ratio, spatial non-uniformity, and temporal instability. An electrical design for an LED-based simulator to satisfy these criteria was developed and implemented, making use of existing lab equipment where possible to minimize cost. The resulting simulator meets the desired spatial non-uniformity and temporal instability requirements of ASTM E927-19, but falls short of the spectral match ratio needed. This is shown to be due to a calibration issue that is easily amended via software. The simulator is overall Class UCB under ASTM E927, and Class CCC under ASTM E491. The simulator was used to conduct the same laboratory procedure for solar cell I-V curve testing as performed by undergraduate students, showing excellent promise as a course enhancement.