Materials International Space Station Experiment - 1 and 2 (MISSE-1 and 2) - 01.09.14
Science Objectives for Everyone
MISSE-1 and 2 are a test bed for materials and coatings attached to the outside of the ISS is being evaluated for the effects of atomic oxygen, direct sunlight, and extremes of heat and cold. This experiment allows the development and testing of new materials to better withstand the rigors of space environments. Results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials when they are exposed to the space environment. Many of the materials may have applications in the design of future spacecraft.
Science Results for Everyone
Atomic oxygen, direct sunlight, micrometeorites, extremes of heat and cold: space is no place for wimpy materials. This investigation exposed more than 400 materials to space to see which ones could take what space dishes out. Researchers observed particulate contamination and optical property changes in some materials, more than 100 micrometeoroid and space debris strikes, and complete erosion of polymer film samples by atomic oxygen. But some samples performed well and will undergo further analysis. Many of the experiments validated ground results, such as ability of certain materials to withstand atomic oxygen erosion, and this data can be immediately applied to spacecraft designs.
Boeing, Phantom Works, Renton, WA, United States
Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA, United States
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)
ISS Expedition Duration:
August 2001 - October 2005
Previous ISS Missions
NASA has conducted a series of space experiments to determine the best materials to survive in the space environment. During mission STS-76, the shuttle crew attached the Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) on Mir. One and a half years later the crew of the STS-86 mission retrieved the MEEP and brought it back to earth for analysis. Shuttle flight STS-85 featured the Evaluation of Space Environment and Effects on Materials study which tested thin polymer films that contained phenylphosphine oxide which, when exposed to space conditions, formed a phosphate barrier that protected the films from further attacks of atomic oxygen. The Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) was another materials test in the space environment. It orbited in space for five and a half years before being returned to Earth for analysis of the materials that were tested.
- MISSE-1 and 2 is the first of three investigations that will assess impacts of the space environment (vacuum, solar radiation, atomic oxygen and micrometeorites) on materials.
- MISSE Passive Experiment Containers (PEC) 1 and 2 contain over 400 candidate spacecraft materials (optics, sensors, electronics, coatings and structural materials) that have been exposed to the hostile environment of space from August 2001 - August 2005.
- Following return to Earth these materials will be analyzed to determine which materials could withstand the harsh environment of space and can be used in the design of future spacecraft.
Researchers from the private and public sector prepared a wide range of samples for the first externally mounted experiment on ISS. MISSE-1 and -2 were testbeds for more than 400 materials and coatings samples, testing their survivability under the corrosive effects of the space environment; including micrometeoroid and orbital debris strikes, atomic oxygen attack, intense ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and extreme temperature swings. Results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials in this environment. Many of the materials may have applications in the design of future spacecraft.
Both MISSE-1 and -2 were deployed in August 2001 on Expedition 3 and were planned for a one-year exposure. Due to the delays incurred following the Columbia accident, they were not retrieved until four years later during ISS Expedition 11 in August 2005. Follow-on samples testing new materials, new technologies and with increasingly complex missions were part of subsequent MISSE experiments mounted on the station (MISSE-5, MISSE-3, MISSE-4, and MISSE-6).
Results will provide a better understanding of the durability of various materials when they are exposed to the space environment. Many of the materials may have applications in the design of future spacecraft.
The new advanced materials and components that will be demonstrated in MISSE will improve the performance, increase the useful life, and reduce the costs of future space operations of commercial weather, communication and Earth observation satellites that we all now depend on.
MISSE is mounted to the Station's exterior on the airlock. It is a passive experiment requiring no power or crew interaction. The critical interaction is between the samples and the space environment.
During extravehicular activity (EVA) on August 16, 2001, astronauts installed the MISSE PEC 1 and 2 on the Quest airlock of ISS. During subsequent EVAs, crewmembers captured snapshots of the MISSE PECs, if time permitted. In August 2005, during an EVA, Increment 11 crewmembers retrieved the MISSE PECs. The samples were returned to the investigators, who will carefully examine each to determine how the materials fared.
In late 2005, 35 investigators taking part in MISSE-1 and -2 traveled to NASA Langley Research Center to inspect their samples and prepare them for return to their respective laboratories for further analysis. Researchers taking part in this investigation have interests in polymers, thermal control coatings, nano-composites, radiation shielding, environmental monitors, and marking processes designed to label parts that will be exposed to the space environment. The primary data from MISSE will be obtained by comparing the preflight laboratory characterization of the test specimens with postflight laboratory characterizations made after the specimens are retrieved.
Some particulate contamination was observed. Optical property changes in thermal control materials were also observed. Several materials did well in the harsh environment. Lack of widespread molecular contamination on MISSE gives confidence in using station for future material studies. A number of results are anticipated to be released over the next few years. While the samples are still under investigation, researchers indicate that over 100 micrometeoroid and space debris strikes were found. Many polymer film samples were completely eroded by atomic oxygen, but some samples survived and are undergoing analysis.
Many of the experiments provide space-validated results for ground-based experiments, such as the durability of materials to withstand atomic Oxygen erosion (AO) (deGroh et al. 2008). Because AO erosion is the primary weathering force to spacecraft materials, and true space environmental conditions are difficult to replicate on Earth, MISSE provides a valuable test platform that enables methods for correlating and extrapolating ground results. Snyder et al. (2006) discuss results from MISSE-2 testing of AO erosion of SiOx coated Kapton compared to uncoated Kapton (the atomic Oxygen erosion profile of Kapton is well documented). They calculated mass loss. De Groh et al. (2006) analyzed 41 different polymers called PEACE (Polymer Erosion and Contamination Experiment) Polymers, with the objective to determine the atomic oxygen erosion yield for a variety of materials such as Kevlar, polyethelene, Lucite, Kapton and Teflon that are used in spacecraft and exposed to the space environment. The erosion yield data are immediately applicable to spacecraft designs. Even though the length of exposure was four times longer than planned, the sample preparation method of stacking many thin layers allowed for meaningful data even after four years: not all of the material had eroded away. Samples masses were weighed after flight and compared with preflight masses to calculated erosion yields.
Other investigators studied specific polymers with various compositional additives or coatings to test resistance to atomic oxygen erosion (e.g. Tomczak et al. 2007, Juhl et al. 2007). One approach (Tomczak et al. 2007) is to embed polymers with nano-sized SiO2. With Atomic Oxygen exposure, a silica pasivation layer is formed.
In addition to testing various materials, experiments were also set up to measure the geometry of atomic oxygen scattering from oxidized Aluminum surfaces.
MISSE-1 and -2 materials, and insights into atomic oxygen erosion have resulted in several patents and spin-offs ranging from cleaning artwork, etching parts to be used in human grafts, developing new methodologies for testing blood sugar, and more. Because MISSE assembles partners across industry and DoD, in addition to NASA scientists and academic partners, many of the results are proprietary. (Evans et al. 2009)
Snyder A, Banks BA, Waters DL. Undercutting Studies of Protected Kapton H Exposed to In-Space and Ground-Based Atomic Oxygen. NASA Technical Memorandum; 2006 August.
Dever JA, Miller SK, Sechkar EA, Sechkar EA, Wittberg TN. Space Environment Exposure of Polymer Films on the Materials International Space Station Experiment: Results from MISSE 1 and MISSE 2. Sage. 2008; 20: 371. DOI: 10.1177/0954008308089704.
de Groh KK, Banks BA, McCarthy CE, Rucker RN, Roberts LM, Berger LA. MISSE 2 PEACE Polymers Atomic Oxygen Erosion Experiment on the International Space Station. Sage. 2008; 20: 388. DOI: 10.1177/0954008308089705.
de Groh KK, Banks BA, Hunt PK. NASA Glenn Research Center and Hathaway Brown School (HB) Collaborative MISSE Experiments. National Space and Missile Materials Symposium, Keystone, CO; 2006 Jun 26-30
Banks BA, Backus JA, Manno MV, Waters DL, Cameron KC, de Groh KK. Atomic Oxygen Erosion Yield Prediction for Spacecraft Polymers in Low Earth Orbit. NASA Technical Memorandum; 2009.
de Groh KK, Banks BA, Dever JA, Jaworske DA, Miller SK, Sechkar EA, Sechkar EA, Panko SR. NASA Glenn Research Center's Materials International Space Station Experiments (MISSE 1-7). NASA Technical Memorandum; 2008 Dec.
Harvey GA, Kinard WH. MISSE 1 and 2 Tray Temperature measurements. Proceedings of MISSE Post Retrieval Conference and the 2006 National Space and Missile Materials Symposium, Orlando, FL; 2006 June
Finckenor MM. The Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE): First Results from MSFC Investigations. 44th Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit. Reno, NV; 2006
Juhl SB, Akinlemibola B, Kasten L, Vaia R. Durability of Poly(Caprolactam) (Nylon 6) and Poly(Caprolactam) Nanocomposites in Low Earth Orbit. National Space and Missile Materials Symposium, Keystone, CO; 2007 [ITAR Restricted]
de Groh KK, Banks BA, McCarthy CE, Rucker RN, Roberts LM, Berger LA. MISSE PEACE Polymers Atomic Oxygen Erosion Results. NASA Technical Memorandum; 2006.
Tomczak SJ, Vij V, Minton TK, Brunsvold AL, Marchant D, Wright ME, Petteys BJ, Guenthner AJ, Yandek GR, Mabry JM. Studies of POSS-Polyimides Flown on MISSE-1. National Space and Missile Materials Symposium, Keystone, CO; 2007 [ITAR Restricted]
Watson KA, Ghose S, Lillehei PT, Smith Jr. JG, Connell JW. Effect of LEO Exposure on Aromatic Polymers Containing Phenylphosphine Oxide Groups. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference: Protection of Materials and Structures From Space Environment, Toronto, Canada; 2008 291-299. [ITAR Restricted]
Waters DL, de Groh KK, Banks BA, Cameron KC. Changes in Optical and Thermal Properties of the MISSE 2 Peace Polymers and Spacecraft Silicones.11th International Symposium on Materials in a Space Environment. Provence, France; 2009 Sep 15-18
Rice N, Shepp A, Haghighat R, Connell JW. Durable TOR Polymers on MISSE. National Space and Missile Materials Symposium, Keystone, CO; 2007 [ITAR Restricted]
Ground Based Results Publications
Hunt PK. Return From Space: The PEACE Team Eight Years In. Hathaway Brown Alumnae Magazine. 2006; 2: 34-35.
Tollis G, Dever JA, Miller SK, Messer R, Sechkar EA, Sechkar EA. Exposure of Polymer Film Thermal Control Materials on the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE). NASA Technical Memorandum; 2002.
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NASA Image: ISS003E5863 - Close up of the experiment trays in MISSE, open and exposed to space.
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NASA Image: ISS006E46361 - Oblique view of MISSE attached to the ISS airlock.
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ISS004E8043 - Location of one of the MISSE PECs on the ISS.
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NASA Image: ISS009E22432 - Close up of MISSE with Earth backdrop.
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NASA Image: ISS009E22435 - MISSE on the ISS, over cloud tops.
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NASA Image: ISS005E17107 - Oblique view of MISSE with Earth and space background.
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NASA Image: STS105-346-007 - Astronaut Patrick G. Forrester, during the second STS-105 extravehicular activity, prepares to work with the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE). The experiment was installed on the outside of the Quest Airlock during the first extravehicular activity (EVA) of the STS-105 mission. MISSE will collect information on how different materials weather in the environment of space.
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