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Degradation of Spacecraft Materials in the Space EnvironmentWhen we think of space, we typically think of a vacuum containing very little matter that lies between the Earth and other planetary and stellar bodies. However, the space above Earth's breathable atmosphere and beyond contains many things that make designing durable spacecraft a challenge. Depending on where the spacecraft is flyng, it may encounter atomic oxygen, ultraviolet and other forms of radiation, charged particles, micrormeteoroids and debris, and temperature extremes. These environments on their own and in combination can cause degradation and failure of polymers, composites, paints and other materials used on the exterior of spacecraft for thermal control, structure, and power generation. This article briefly discusses and gives examples of some of the degradation experienced on spacecraft and night experiments as a result of the space environment and the use of ground and space data to predict durability.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Miller, Sharon K. R.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(Alphaport, Inc. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
Publication Information
Publication: MRS Bulletin
Volume: 35
Subject Category
Space Transportation And Safety
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 904211.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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