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Fast Three-Dimensional Method of Modeling Atomic Oxygen Undercutting of Protected PolymersA method is presented to model atomic oxygen erosion of protected polymers in low Earth orbit (LEO). Undercutting of protected polymers by atomic oxygen occurs in LEO due to the presence of scratch, crack or pin-window defects in the protective coatings. As a means of providing a better understanding of undercutting processes, a fast method of modeling atomic-oxygen undercutting of protected polymers has been developed. Current simulation methods often rely on computationally expensive ray-tracing procedures to track the surface-to-surface movement of individual "atoms." The method introduced in this paper replaces slow individual particle approaches by substituting a model that utilizes both a geometric configuration-factor technique, which governs the diffuse transport of atoms between surfaces, and an efficient telescoping series algorithm, which rapidly integrates the cumulative effects stemming from the numerous atomic oxygen events occurring at the surfaces of an undercut cavity. This new method facilitates the systematic study of three-dimensional undercutting by allowing rapid simulations to be made over a wide range of erosion parameters.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Snyder, Aaron
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 2002
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:211578
Meeting Information
Sixth International Conference on Protection of Materials and Structures from Space Environment(Toronto)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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