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Vacuum Ultraviolet Radiation and Atomic Oxygen Durability Evaluation of HST Bi-Stem Thermal Shield MaterialsBellows-type thermal shields were used on the bi-stems of replacement solar arrays installed on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during the first HST servicing mission (SMI) in December 1993. These thermal shields helped reduce the problem of thermal gradient- induced jitter observed with the original HST solar arrays during orbital thermal cycling and have been in use on HST for eight years. This paper describes ground testing of the candidate solar array bi-stem thermal shield materials including backside aluminized Teflon(R)FEP (fluorinated ethylene propylene) with and without atomic oxygen (AO) and ultraviolet radiation protective surface coatings for durability to AO and combined AO and vacuum ultraviolet (VOV) radiation. NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) conducted VUV and AO exposures of samples of candidate thermal shield materials at HST operational temperatures and pre- and post-exposure analyses as part of an overall program coordinated by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to determine the on-orbit durability of these materials. Coating adhesion problems were observed for samples having the AO- and combined AO/UV-protective coatings. Coating lamination occurred with rapid thermal cycling testing which simulated orbital thermal cycling. This lack of adhesion caused production of coating flakes from the material that would have posed a serious risk to HST optics if the coated materials were used for the bi-stem thermal shields. No serious degradation was observed for the uncoated aluminized Teflon(R) as evaluated by optical microscopy, although atomic force microscopy (AFM) microhardness testing revealed that an embrittled surface layer formed on the uncoated Teflon(R) surface due to vacuum ultraviolet radiation exposure. This embrittled layer was not completely removed by AO erosion, No cracks or particle flakes were produced for the embrittled uncoated material upon exposure to VUV and AO at operational temperatures to an equivalent exposure of approximately five years in the HST environment. Uncoated aluminized FEP Teflon(R) was determined to be the most appropriate thermal shield material and was used on the bi-stems of replacement solar arrays installed on HST during SMI in December 1993. The SMI -installed solar arrays air scheduled to be replaced during MST's fourth servicing mission (SM3B) in early 2002.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Dever, Joyce
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
deGroh, Kim K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 2002
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:211364
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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