Atomic Oxygen (AO) Materials Testing for Low Earth Orbit (LEO)
Satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) at altitudes greater than 200 km sweep through a rarified atmosphere composed primarily of atomic oxygen (AO). Even though the AO density is very low (106 to 1010 cm-3) at these altitudes, high incident fluxes (1012 to 1016 /cm2/s) of energetic (5 eV translational energy) oxygen atoms are generated due to the orbital velocity (8 km/s). NASA studies in the early 1980's demonstrated that AO induced material degradation would have a severe impact on the performance of Space Station over a projected 30-year lifetime, and motivated development of a means of simulating the erosive LEO environment. PSI developed its laser detonation based FAST technology in 1985 in response to NASA’s call for ground-based test facilities capable of producing high flux AO at ~ 8 km/s. To this day, the FAST technology remains the gold standard for simulating the interaction of spacecraft materials in the LEO environment and, as a result, PSI has tested over 3000 material samples in its FAST facility for government and aerospace customers.
4.5”x4.5” Sample Pallet Prepared for AO Testing
PSI offers the following AO Testing Services:
Materials Erosion Testing:
- AO fluences to 1021 /cm2 routine
- Available AO velocity range: 5 – 12 km/s (2 eV – 11 eV)
- Treatment area: 100 – 1000 cm2
- Sample temperature controlled: 0 – 80 C routine
- Mass loss precision: 1 µg/10 µg for samples weighing less than 250 mg/1000 mg, respectively
AO Source Chamber: PSI delivers AO source chamber with control software for installation on customer’s vacuum chamber
Full Turn-key System: PSI designs, builds and delivers vacuum chamber + AO source to customer’s specifications.
To download more information on the FAST AO source and associated testing services, click on the following PDF: