Digital Repository, Convegno IGF XVI Catania 2002

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Peculiarity of polymeric materials destruction on the low Earth orbits
V. K. Milinchuk, M. Marchetti, E. R. Klinshpont, I. P. Shelukhov, T. Smirnova, G. Allegri

Last modified: 2008-05-26


The paper reports on the research of two polymer film sets after in-flight exposure on the orbital space station “Mir” for 28 and 42 months. The investigated films include the samples of polyimide (grades PM-1E, Kapton 100 HN, polyimide coated with fluoroplast , one-side aluminised film PM-1UE-OA), copolymers of tetrafluoroethylene with hexafluoropropylene (grades F4-MB, FEP-100A). During exposure a part of the polymeric films was open to the space environment, while the other part was protected by polymeric films or quartz plates. The investigations showed a drastic change of physico-chemical, optical and strength characteristics in all open-to-the-space-environment films. The properties of the protected polymeric materials varied insignificantly. The method of scanning electron microscopy enabled to observe oriented space-organized structures with the longitudinal size varying from tens of nanometers to several microns on the surface of 28-month exposed polyimide films. The size and shape of these structures depend significantly on exposure time. The studies of the 42-month exposed samples showed larger structures with the longitudinal and transverse size of more than 50 mm and 1 – 5 mm, respectively. The direction of structure orientation coincides with that of the space vehicle motion. According to the data of the force atomic microscopy, the structure thickness varies in a very wide range, i.e. from tens to thousand nanometers. The investigation results can prove the occurrence of self- organization processes and dissipative structure formation in solid bodies in space.

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