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A Comparison of Atomic Oxygen Erosion Yields of Carbon and Selected Polymers Exposed in Ground Based Facilities and in Low Earth OrbitA comparison of the relative erosion yields (volume of material removed per oxygen atom arriving) for FEP Teflon, polyethylene, and pyrolytic graphite with respect to Kapton HN was performed in an atomic oxygen directed beam system, in a plasma asher, and in space on the EOIM-III (Evaluation of Oxygen Interaction with Materials-III) flight experiment. This comparison was performed to determine the sensitivity of material reaction to atomic oxygen flux, atomic oxygen fluence, and vacuum ultraviolet radiation for enabling accurate estimates of durability in ground based facilities. The relative erosion yield of pyrolytic graphite was found not to be sensitive to these factors, that for FEP was sensitive slightly to fluence and possibly ions, and that for polyethylene was found to be partially VUV and flux sensitive but more sensitive to an unknown factor. Results indicate that the ability to use these facilities for material relative durability prediction is great as long as the sensitivity of particular materials to conditions such as VUV, and atomic oxygen flux and fluence are taken into account. When testing materials of a particular group such as teflon, it may be best to use a witness sample made of a similar material that has some available space data on it. This would enable one to predict an equivalent exposure in the ground based facility.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Rutledge, Sharon K.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Cales, Michael
(NASA Lewis Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1994
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:106622
AIAA PAPER 94-2628
Meeting Information
AIAA Aerospace Ground Testing Conference(Colorado Springs, CO)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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