Study of the space environmental effects on spacecraft engineering materials

Source: NTRS

ABSTRACT The issue of the effects of the space environment on spacecraft needs to be understood for the long term exposure of structures in space. In order to better understand the effect of these hostile phenomena on spacecraft, several types of studies are worth performing in order to simulate at some level the effect of the environment. For example the effect of protons and electrons impacting structural materials are easily simulated through experiments using the Van de Graff and Pelletron accelerators currently housed at MSFC. Proton fluxes with energies of 700 KeV - 2.5 MeV can be generated and used to impinge on sample targets to determine the effects of the particles. Also the Environmental Effects Facility at MSFC has the capability to generate electron beams with energies from 700 KeV to 2.5 MeV. These facilities will be used in this research to simulate space environmental effects from energetic particles. Ultraviolet radiation, particularly less than 400 nm wavelength, is less well characterized at this time. The Environmental Effects Facility has a vacuum system dedicated to studying the effects of ultraviolet radiation on specific surface materials. This particular system was assembled in a previous study in order to perform a variety of experiments on materials proposed for the Space Station. That system has continued to function as planned and has been used in carrying out portions of the proposed study.