As a part of a research project we were planning to do in October, measuring the efficiency of solar cells in near space, we were going to be sent panels from a NASA engineer. Unfortunately, the government shutdown occurred and NASA employees were unable to work. We missed our window of opportunity for the fall launch, but decided to make it a priority for our spring launch.
We received two panels of equal size in the mail this week. One of them is a mass-manufactured battery charging solar panel that costs $20 from Amazon. We expect this to have about 4% efficiency.
The other one is the “latest and greatest” in thin film photovoltaic technology and should get about 30% efficiency. The cost of this small piece is approximately $3000! We will be very careful with this.