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The present state of the art allows transistors to operate up to 1 year for a space probe. This is for thin-base germanium devices. Other devices, such as thick-base and silicon, are restricted to shorter periods. For devices orbiting in the center of the inner Van Allen belt, the useful life of thin-base transistors is approximately 3 days. These lifetimes may be increased by suitable shielding. Latest transistor development, such as very-high-frequency germanium devices, should increase the lifetimes by an order of magnitude.
Gardner, Leonard B.
President, Consulting Scientists, North Hollywood, Calif.
Coss, James R.
Senior Engineer, Northrop Space Laboratories, Hawthorne, Calif.