George Mazaris, works with an assistant to obtain the preliminary measurements of cadmium sulfide thin-film solar cells being tested in the Space Environmental Chamber at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lewis Research Center. Lewis’ Photovoltaic Fundamentals Section was investigating thin-film alternatives to the standard rigid and fragile solar cells. The cadmium sulfide semiconductors were placed in a light, metallized substrate that could be rolled or furled during launch. The main advantage of the thin-film solar cells was their reduced weight. Lewis researchers, however, were still working on improving the performance of the semiconductor.
The new thin-film solar cells were tested in a space simulation chamber in the CW-6 test cell in the Engine Research Building. The chamber created a simulated altitude of 200 miles. Sunlight was simulated by a 5000-watt xenon light. Some two dozen cells were exposed to 15 minutes of light followed by 15 minutes of darkness to test their durability in the constantly changing illumination of Earth orbit. This photograph was taken for use in a NASA recruiting publication.