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Optical and Scanning Electron Microscopy of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) Spacecraft Silicone ExperimentUnder a microscope, atomic oxygen (AO) exposed silicone surfaces are crazed and seen as "islands" separated by numerous crack lines, much analogous to mud-tile cracks. This research characterized and compared the degree of AO degradation of silicones by analyzing optical microscope images of samples exposed to low Earth orbit (LEO) AO as part of the Spacecraft Silicone Experiment. The Spacecraft Silicone Experiment consisted of eight DC 93-500 silicone samples exposed to eight different AO fluence levels (ranged from 1.46 to 8.43 10(exp 21) atoms/sq cm) during two different Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) missions. Image analysis software was used to analyze images taken using a digital camera. To describe the morphological degradation of each AO exposed flight sample, three different parameters were selected and estimated: (1) average area of islands was determined and found to be in the 1000 to 3100 sq mm range; (2) total length of crack lines per unit area of the sample surface were determined and found to be in the range of 27 to 59 mm of crack length per sq mm of sample surface; and (3) the fraction of sample surface area that is occupied by crack lines was determined and found to be in the 25 to 56 percent range. In addition, average crack width can be estimated from crack length and crack area measurements and was calculated to be about 10 mm. Among the parameters studied, the fraction of sample surface area that is occupied by crack lines is believed to be most useful in characterizing the degree of silicone conversion to silicates by AO because its value steadily increases with increasing fluence over the entire fluence range. A series of SEM images from the eight samples exposed to different AO fluences suggest a complex sequence of surface stress due to surface shrinkage and crack formation, followed by re-distribution of stress and shrinking rate on the sample surface. Energy dispersive spectra (EDS) indicated that upon AO exposure, carbon content on the surface decreased relatively quickly at the beginning, to 32 percent of the pristine value for the least exposed sample in this set of experiments (1.46 10(exp 21) atoms/sq cm), but then decreased slowly, to 22 percent of the pristine value for the most exposed sample in this set of experiment (8.43 10(exp 21) atoms/sq cm). The oxygen content appears to increase at a slower rate. The least and most AO exposed samples were, respectively, 52 and 150 percent above the pristine values. The silicone samples with the greater AO exposure (7.75 10(exp 21) atoms/sq cm and higher) appear to have a surface layer which contains SiO2 with perhaps small amounts of unreacted silicone, CO and CO2 sealed inside.
Document ID
20120013788
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Authors
Hung, Ching-cheh (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
de Groh, Kim K. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Banks, Bruce A. (Alphaport, Inc. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 26, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2012
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
NASA/TM-2012-217678
E-18353
Meeting Information
10th International Space Conference on Protection of Materials and Structures from the Space Environment(Bankoku-Shinryokan, Bankoku-Shinryokan, Okinawa)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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