Pristine and Surface-Modified Polymers in LEO: MISSE Results versus Predictive Models and Ground-Based Testing
Space flight data, collected and published by NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) team for a set of pristine polymeric materials selected, compiled, and tested in two LEO flight experiments at the International Space Station, as part of the "Materials International Space Station Experiment" (MISSE), has been used for comparison with previously developed atomic oxygen erosion predictive models. The same set of materials was used for a ground-based fast atomic beam (FAO) experimental erosion study at ITL/UTIAS, where the FAO exposure was performed mostly at a standard fluence of 2×1020 cm-2, with the results collected in a database for the development of a prototype of predictive software. A comparison of MISSE-1 flight data with two predictive correlations has shown good agreement, confirming the developed approach to polymers erosion resistance forecast that might be used also for newly developed or untested in space polymeric materials. A number of surface-modified thin film space polymers, treated by two ITL-developed and patented surface modification technologies, Implantox™  and Photosil™ , have been also included in MISSE flight experiment. The results from those MISSE samples have shown full protection of AO-sensitive main space-related hydrocarbon polymers, such as Kapton HN, back-metalized Kapton H and Kapton E, and Mylar, when treated by Implantox™ surface modification technology and significant erosion resistance enhancement up to full protection by Photosil™ treatment.