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In Situ Measurement of Carbon Fibre/Polyether Ether Ketone Thermal Expansion in Low Earth Orbit
Abstract and Figures
The low Earth orbit (LEO) environment exposes spacecraft to factors that can degrade the dimensional stability of the structure. Carbon Fibre/Polyether Ether Ketone (CF/PEEK) can limit such degradations. However, there are limited in-orbit data on the performance of CF/PEEK. Usage of small satellite as material science research platform can address such limitations. This paper discusses the design of a material science experiment termed material mission (MM) onboard Ten-Koh satellite, which allows in situ measurements of coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) for CF/PEEK samples in LEO. Results from ground tests before launch demonstrated the feasibility of the MM design. Analysis of in-orbit data indicated that the CTE values exhibit a non-linear temperature dependence, and there was no shift in CTE values after four months. The acquired in-orbit data was consistent with previous ground tests and in-orbit data. The MM experiment provides data to verify the ground test of CF/PEEK performance in LEO. MM also proved the potential of small satellite as a platform for conducting meaningful material science experiments.
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