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Ground-Laboratory to In-Space Effective Atomic-Oxygen Fluence Determined for DC 93-500 SiliconeSurfaces on the leading edge of spacecraft in low Earth orbit (e.g., surface facing the velocity direction), such as on the International Space Station, are subject to atomic oxygen attack, and certain materials are susceptible to erosion. Therefore, ground-based laboratory testing of the atomic oxygen durability of spacecraft materials is necessary for durability assessment when flight data are not available. For accurate space simulation, the facility is commonly calibrated on the basis of the mass loss of Kapton (DuPont, Wilmington, DE) as a control sample for effective fluence determination. This is because Kapton has a well-characterized atomic oxygen erosion yield (E(sub y), in cubic centimeters per atom) in the low Earth orbit (LEO) environment. Silicones, a family of commonly used spacecraft materials, do not chemically erode away with atomic oxygen attack like other organic materials that have volatile oxidation products. Instead, silicones react with atomic oxygen and form an oxidized hardened silicate surface layer. Often the loss of methyl groups causes shrinkage of the surface skin and "mud-tile" crazing degradation. But silicones often do not lose mass, and some silicones actually gain mass during atomic oxygen exposure. Therefore, the effective atomic oxygen fluence for silicones in a ground-test facility should not be determined on the basis of traditional mass-loss measurements, as it is with polymers that erode. Another method for determining effective fluence needs to be employed for silicones. A new technique has been developed at the NASA Glenn Research Center for determining the effective atomic oxygen fluence for silicones in ground-test facilities. This technique determines the equivalent amount of atomic oxygen oxidation on the basis of changes in the surface-oxide hardness. The specific approach developed was to compare changes in the surface hardness of ground-laboratory-exposed DC93-500 silicone with DC93-500 exposed to LEO atomic oxygen as part of a shuttle flight experiment. The on-the-ground to in-space effective atomic oxygen fluence was determined on the basis of the Kapton effective fluence in the ground-laboratory facility that produced the same hardness for the fluence in space.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
deGroh, Kim K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Ma, David
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 2005
Publication Information
Publication: Research and Technology 2004
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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