NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE): Overview, Accomplishments and Future NeedsMaterials and devices used on the exterior of spacecraft in low Earth orbit (LEO) are subjected to environmental threats that can cause degradation in material properties, possibly threatening spacecraft mission success. These threats include: atomic oxygen (AO), ultraviolet and x-ray radiation, charged particle radiation, temperature extremes and thermal cycling, micrometeoroid and debris impacts, and contamination. Space environmental threats vary greatly based on spacecraft materials, thicknesses and stress levels, and the mission environment and duration. For more than a decade the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) has enabled the study of the long duration environmental durability of spacecraft materials in the LEO environment. The overall objective of MISSE is to test the stability and durability of materials and devices in the space environment in order to gain valuable knowledge on the performance of materials in space, as well as to enable lifetime predictions of new materials that may be used in future space flight. MISSE is a series of materials flight experiments, which are attached to the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS). Individual experiments were loaded onto suitcase-like trays, called Passive Experiment Containers (PECs). The PECs were transported to the ISS in the Space Shuttle cargo bay and attached to, and removed from, the ISS during extravehicular activities (EVAs). The PECs were retrieved after one or more years of space exposure and returned to Earth enabling post-flight experiment evaluation. MISSE is a multi-organization project with participants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DoD), industry and academia. MISSE has provided a platform for environmental durability studies for thousands of samples and numerous devices, and it has produced many tangible impacts. Ten PECs (and one smaller tray) have been flown, representing MISSE 1 through MISSE 8, yielding long-duration space environmental performance and durability data that enable material validation, processing recertification and space qualification; improved predictions of materials and component lifetimes in space; model verification and development; and correlation factors between space-exposure and ground-facilities enabling more accurate in-space performance predictions based on ground-laboratory testing. A few of the many experiment results and observations, and their impacts, are provided. Those highlighted include examples on improved understanding of atomic oxygen scattering mechanisms, LEO coating durability results, and polymer erosion yields and their impacts on spacecraft design. The MISSE 2 Atomic Oxygen Scattering Chamber Experiment discovered that the peak flux of scattered AO was determined to be 45 deg from normal incidence, not the model predicted cosine dependence. In addition, the erosion yield (E(sub y)) of Kapton H for AO scattered off oxidized-Al is 22% of the E(sub y) of direct AO impingement. These results were used to help determine the degradation mechanism of a cesium iodide detector within the Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph Experiment. The MISSE 6 Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) Degradation Experiment measured surface electrical resistance of ram and wake ITO coated samples. The data confirmed that ITO is a stable AO protective coating, and the results validated the durability of ITO conductive coatings for solar arrays for the Atmosphere-Space Transition 2 Explorer program. The MISSE 2, 6 and 7 Polymer Experiments have provided LEO AO Ey data on over 120 polymer and composites samples. The flight E(sub y) values were found to range from 3.05 x 10(exp -26) cu cm/atom for the AO resistant polymer CORIN to 9.14 x 10(exp -26) cu cm/atom for polyoxymethylene (POM). In addition, flying the same polymers on different missions has advanced the understanding of the AO E(sub y) dependency on solar exposure for polymers containing fluorine. The MISSE polymer results are highly requested and have impacted spacecraft design for WorldView-2 & -3, the Global Precipitation Measurement-Microwave Imager, and other spacecraft. The flight data has enabled the development of an Atomic Oxygen Erosion Predictive Tool that allows the erosion prediction of new and non-flown polymers. The data has also been used to develop a new NASA Technical Standards Handbook "Spacecraft Polymers Atomic Oxygen Durability Handbook." Many intangible benefits have also been derived from MISSE. For example, over 40 students have collaborated on Glenn's MISSE experiments, which have resulted in greater than $80K in student scholarships and awards in national and international science fairs. Students have also given presentations and won poster competition awards at international space conferences.
Document ID
Document Type
deGroh, Kim K. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Jaworske, Donald A. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Pippin, Gary (Boeing Co. Seattle, WA, United States)
Jenkins, Philip P. (Naval Research Lab. Washington, DC, United States)
Walters, Robert J. (Naval Research Lab. Washington, DC, United States)
Thibeault, Sheila A. (NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Palusinski, Iwona (Aerospace Corp. El Segundo, CA, United States)
Lorentzen, Justin R. (Aerospace Corp. El Segundo, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
January 30, 2015
Publication Date
June 17, 2014
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Chemistry and Materials (General)
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Annual International Space Station Research and Development Conference(Chicago, IL)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 686034.01.03.05
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Flight Experiment
Earth Orbital Environments
International Space Station

Available Downloads

NameType 20150000889.pdf STI