Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ah, that new car smell: NASA technology protects spacecraft from outgassed molecular contaminants

20.11.2012
Outgassing — the physical process that creates that oh-so-alluring new car smell — isn't healthy for humans and, as it turns out, not particularly wholesome for sensitive satellite instruments, either. But a team of NASA engineers has created a new way to protect those instruments from its ill effects.

For some people, the best part about buying a new car is its factory-fresh new car smell, a distinctive aroma created when the chemicals and residual solvents used to manufacture dashboards, car seats, carpeting and other vehicle appointments outgas and fill the cabin.

While the scent may be alluring to some, many researchers believe exposure to these gases isn't particularly healthy — so unhealthy, in fact, that some recommend that drivers keep their new cars ventilated while driving.

Outgassed solvents, epoxies, lubricants, and other materials aren't especially wholesome for contamination-sensitive telescope mirrors, thermal-control units, high-voltage electronic boxes, cryogenic instruments, detectors and solar arrays, either. As a result, NASA engineers are always looking for new techniques to prevent these gases from adhering to instrument and spacecraft surfaces and potentially shortening their lives.

A group of technologists has created a low-cost, easy-to-apply solution, which is more effective than current techniques.

Led by Principal Investigator Sharon Straka, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the team has created a new, patent-pending sprayable paint that adsorbs these gaseous molecules and stops them from affixing to instrument components. Made of zeolite, a mineral widely used in industry for water purification and other uses, and a colloidal silica binder that acts as the glue holding the coating together, the new molecular adsorber is highly permeable and porous — attributes that trap the outgassed contaminants. Because it doesn't contain volatile organics, the material itself doesn't cause additional outgassing.

"It looks promising," Straka said. "It collects significantly more contaminants than other approaches."

Advantages Over Current Techniques
Instrument developers currently use zeolite-coated cordierite devices that look like hockey pucks. Because each individual puck has limited adsorbing capabilities, instrument designers must install multiple units, which require complex mounting hardware. "These devices are big, heavy and chunky, and take up a lot of real estate," explained Co-Principal Investigator Mark Hasegawa, of NASA Goddard.

The new paint, however, overcomes these limitations by providing a low-mass alternative. Because technicians can spray the paint directly onto surfaces, no extra mounting equipment is necessary. In addition, technicians can coat adhesive strips or tape and then place these pieces in strategic locations within an instrument, spacecraft cavity, or vacuum system, further simplifying adsorber design. "This is an easy technology to insert at a relatively low risk and cost," Hasegawa said "The benefits are significant."

Since its development, Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, Calif.; the European Space Agency; the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder; and Spica Technologies of Hollis, N.H., have expressed interest in using the material, Straka said. In addition, NASA's ICESat2 ATLAS project is evaluating its use, pending the outcome of additional tests, she said.

The team plans to tweak its recipe to enhance the paint's performance and experiment with different pigments, mainly black, to create a coating to absorb stray light that can overcome the light scientists actually want to gather. Straka also believes the technology could be used on the International Space Station or future space habitats to trap pollutants and odors in crew quarters.

"We're ready for primetime," Straka said. "The coating is undergoing qualification tests and is ready for infusion into flight projects or ground vacuum systems."

Lori Keesey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Researchers discover link between magnetic field strength and temperature
21.08.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biosensor allows real-time oxygen monitoring for 'organs-on-a-chip'

21.08.2018 | Medical Engineering

Researchers discover link between magnetic field strength and temperature

21.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

IHP technology ready for space flights

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>