Polymer Strain Experiment on MISSE 6
Experiments have been conducted in low Earth orbit (LEO) on the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) and the Materials International Space Station Experiment 2 (MISSE 2) that involved slightly stretched polymers held at their perimeters. In several instances, tearing occurred at the polymers’ perimeters. A possible cause for such material failure may be polymer shrinkage as a result of LEO exposure, causing the stress level to gradually increase until the polymers tear. The potential for tearing may be increased by radiation induced surface embrittlement of the polymer. An active experiment, called the Polymer Strain Experiment (PSE), was designed and installed on MISSE 6B to measure the strain in 6 one-end free standing polymers as a function of time. It was thought that radiation or other environmental factors may possibly induce shrinkage in some polymers developing a tensile stress when held in place. Post-flight testing was conducted on the six flight samples including dehydration shrinkage, thermal vacuum strain, scanning electron microscopy and mandrel bend testing.
KeywordsMISSE Polymer Strain Radiation induced embrittlement
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