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Atomic oxygen undercutting of LDEF aluminized Kapton multilayer insulationAtomic oxygen undercutting is a potential threat to vulnerable spacecraft materials which have been shielded with an atomic oxygen protective coating. This is due to atomic oxygen attack of oxidizable materials at the point of microscopic defects in the protective coatings which occur during fabrication and handling, or from micrometeoroid and debris bombardment in space. An aluminized Kapton multilayer insulation sample which was flown on the leading edge of the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was used to study low Earth orbit (LEO) directed ram oxygen undercutting. Cracks in the aluminized coatings around the vent holes provided excellent locations for evaluation of atomic oxygen undercutting. The undercutting profiles were compared to Monte Carlo models which predict LEO ram atomic oxygen attack. The shape of the undercurrent profile was found to vary with crack width, which is proportional to the number of atomic oxygen atoms entering the crack. The resulting atomic oxygen undercut profiles which occurred on LDEF indicated wide undercut cavities in spite of the fixed ram orientation. Potential causes of the observed undercutting profiles will be presented. Implications of the undercutting profiles relevant to Space Station Freedom will also be discussed.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Degroh, Kim K.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1991
Publication Information
Publication: NASA, Langley Research Center, First LDEF Post-Retrieval Symposium Abstracts
Subject Category
Atomic And Molecular Physics
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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