Polymeric materials exposed to space environment up to 500 km altitude are affected by the upper neutral atmosphere, whose main constituent is atomic oxygen; the latter attacks hydrocarbon polymers by removing C atoms from the molecular backbones. At a macroscopic level this produces polymer erosion, which has the potential of destroying thermal covers and primary composite structures. This paper presents a methodology for predicting the erosion rates of hydrocarbon polymers exposed to the space environment via a probabilistic finite volume approach; this technique also allows predicting both the polymer thickness/mass loss and the associated degradation of thermo-optical properties.
|Translated title of the contribution||Atomic Oxygen Degradation of Polymeric Thin Films in Low Earth Orbit|
|Pages (from-to)||1525 - 1534|
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2003|