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Analyses of Hubble Space Telescope Aluminized-Teflon Multilayer Insulation Blankets Retrieved After 19 Years of Space ExposureSince its launch in April 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has made many important observations from its vantage point in low Earth orbit (LEO). However, as seen during five servicing missions, the outer layer of multilayer insulation (MLI) has become increasingly embrittled and has cracked in many areas. In May 2009, during the 5th servicing mission (called SM4), two MLI blankets were replaced with new insulation and the space-exposed MLI blankets were retrieved for degradation analyses by teams at NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The retrieved MLI blankets were from Equipment Bay 8, which received direct sunlight, and Equipment Bay 5, which received grazing sunlight. Each blanket was divided into several regions based on environmental exposure and/or physical appearance. The aluminized-Teflon (DuPont, Wilmington, DE) fluorinated ethylene propylene (Al-FEP) outer layers of the retrieved MLI blankets have been analyzed for changes in optical, physical, and mechanical properties, along with chemical and morphological changes. Pristine and as-retrieved samples (materials) were heat treated to help understand degradation mechanisms. When compared to pristine material, the analyses have shown how the Al-FEP was severely affected by the space environment. Most notably, the Al-FEP was highly embrittled, fracturing like glass at strains of 1 to 8 percent. Across all measured properties, more significant degradation was observed for Bay 8 material as compared to Bay 5 material. This paper reviews the tensile and bend-test properties, density, thickness, solar absorptance, thermal emittance, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) elemental composition measurements, surface and crack morphologies, and atomic oxygen erosion yields of the Al-FEP outer layer of the retrieved HST blankets after 19 years of space exposure.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
de Groh, Kim K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Perry, Bruce A.
(Ohio Aerospace Inst. Brook Park, OH, United States)
Mohammed, Jelila S.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Banks, Bruce
(Science Applications International Corp. Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
March 10, 2015
Publication Date
February 1, 2015
Subject Category
Space Radiation
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 686034.01.03.05
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Earth Orbital Environments
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