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The Erosion of Diamond and Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite After 1.5 Years of Space ExposurePolymers and other oxidizable materials on the exterior of spacecraft in the low Earth orbit (LEO) space environment can be eroded due to reaction with atomic oxygen (AO). Therefore, in order to design durable spacecraft, it is important to know the LEO AO erosion yield (Ey, volume loss per incident oxygen atom) of materials susceptible to AO reaction. The Polymers Experiment was developed to determine the AO Ey of various polymers and other materials flown in ram and wake orientations in LEO. The experiment was flown as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment 7 (MISSE 7) mission for 1.5 years on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS). As part of the experiment, a sample containing Class 2A diamond (100 plane) and highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG, basal and edge planes) was exposed to ram AO and characterized for erosion. The materials were salt-sprayed prior to flight to provide isolated sites of AO protection. The Ey of the samples was determined through post-flight electron microscopy recession depth measurements. The experiment also included a Kapton H witness sample for AO fluence determination. This paper provides an overview of the MISSE 7 mission, a description of the flight experiment, the characterization techniques used, the mission AO fluence, and the LEO Ey results for diamond and HOPG (basal and edge planes). The data is compared to the Ey of pyrolytic graphite exposed to four years of space exposure as part of the MISSE 2 mission. The results indicate that diamond erodes, but with a very low Ey of 1.58 +/- 0.04 x 10(exp -26) cm(exp 3)/atom. The different HOPG planes displayed significantly different amounts of erosion from each other. The HOPG basal plane had an Ey of 1.05 +/- 0.08 x 10(exp -24) cm(exp 3)/atom while the edge plane had a lower Ey of only 5.38 +/- 0.90 x 10(exp -25) -cm(exp 3)/atom. The Ey data from this ISS spaceflight experiment provides valuable information for understanding of chemistry and chemical structure dependent modeling of AO erosion.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
De Groh, Kim K.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Banks, Bruce A.
(Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
February 20, 2018
Publication Date
February 1, 2018
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 291647.01.22
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
International Space Statio
Atomic oxygen
spaceflight experiment

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