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Durability Issues for the Protection of Materials from Atomic Oxygen Attack in Low Earth OrbitLow Earth orbital atomic oxygen is capable of eroding most polymeric materials typically used on spacecraft. Solar array blankets, thermal control polymers, and carbon fiber matrix composites are readily oxidized to become thinner and less capable of supporting the loads imposed upon them. Protective coatings have been developed that are durable to atomic oxygen to prevent oxidative erosion of the underlying polymers. However, the details of the surface roughness, coating defect density, and coating configuration can play a significant role as to whether or not the coating provides long duration atomic oxygen protection. Identical coatings on different surface roughness surfaces can have drastically different durability results. Examples and analysis of the causes of resultant differences in atomic oxygen protection are presented. Implications based on in-space experiences, ground laboratory testing, and computational modeling indicate that thin film vacuum-deposited aluminum protective coatings offer much less atomic oxygen protection than sputter-deposited silicon dioxide coatings.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Banks, Bruce
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Lenczewski, Mary
(Ohio Aerospace Inst. Brook Park, OH United States)
Demko, Rikako
(Cleveland State Univ. Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2002
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.15:211830
Meeting Information
53rd International Astronautical Congress: The World Space Congress-2002(Houston, TX)
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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