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Effect of Ram and Zenith Exposure on the Optical Properties of Polymers in SpaceThe temperature of spacecraft is influenced by the solar absorptance and thermal emittance of the external spacecraft materials. Optical and thermal properties can degrade over time in the harsh low Earth orbital (LEO) space environment where spacecraft external materials are exposed to various forms of radiation, thermal cycling, and atomic oxygen. Therefore, it is important to test the durability of spacecraft materials in the space environment. One objective of the Polymers and Zenith Polymers Experiments was to determine the effect of LEO space exposure on the optical properties of various spacecraft polymers. These experiments were flown as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment 7 (MISSE 7) mission on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS) for 1.5 years. Samples were flown in ram, wake or zenith directions, receiving varying amounts of atomic oxygen and solar radiation exposure. Total and diffuse reflectance and transmittance of flight and corresponding control samples were obtained post-flight using a Cary 5000 UV-Vis-NIR Spectrophotometer. Integrated air mass zero solar absorptance (s) of the flight and control samples were computed from the total transmittance and reflectance, and compared. The optical data are compared with similar polymers exposed to space for four years as part of MISSE 2, and with atomic oxygen erosion data, to help understand the degradation of these polymers in the space environment. Results show that prolonged space exposure increases the solar absorptance of some materials. Knowing which polymers remain stable will benefit future spacecraft design.
Document ID
Document Type
Yuanchun Li
(Hathaway Brown School Shaker Heights, OH, United States)
Kim K. de Groh
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Bruce A. Banks
(Science Applications International Corporation (United States) McLean, Virginia, United States)
Halle Leneghan
(Hathaway Brown School Shaker Heights, OH, United States)
Olivia Asmar
(Hathaway Brown School Shaker Heights, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
October 31, 2017
Publication Date
July 17, 2017
Subject Category
Nonmetallic Materials
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
International Space Station Research and Development (ISSR&D) Conference(Washington, DC)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 934844.
Distribution Limits
Portions of document may include copyright protected material.

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