Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)

Document Type





Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. James E. Lumpp


The unique environment of CubeSat and small satellite missions allows certain accepted paradigms of the larger satellite world to be investigated in order to trade performance for simplicity, mass, and volume. Peak Power Tracking technologies for solar arrays are generally implemented in order to meet the End-of-Life power requirements for satellite missions given radiation degradation over time. The short lifetime of the generic satellite mission removes the need to compensate for this degradation. While Peak Power Tracking implementations can give increased power by taking advantage and compensating for the temperature cycles that solar cells experience, this comes at the expense of system complexity and, given smart system design, this increased performance is negligible and possibly detrimental. This thesis investigates different Peak Power Tracking implementations and compares them to two Fixed Point implementations as well as a Direct Energy Transfer system in terms of performance and system complexity using computer simulation. This work demonstrates that, though Peak Power Tracking systems work as designed, under most circumstances Direct Energy Transfer systems should be used in small satellite applications as it gives the same or better performance with less complexity.