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- Multi-kilogram class microsatellites with a PowerSphere electric power system are attractive for fulfilling a variety of potential NASA missions. However, PowerSphere polymer surfaces must be coated with a film that has suitable electrical sheet resistivity for electrostatic discharge control, be resistant to atomic oxygen attack, be transparent to ultraviolet light for composite structure curing and resist ultraviolet light induced darkening for efficient photovoltaic cell operation. In addition, the film must be tolerant of polymer layer folding associated with launch stowage of PowerSphere inflatable structures. An excellent film material candidate to meet these requirements is co-sputtered, indium oxide (In2O3) - tin oxide (SnO2), known as 'ITO', and magnesium fluoride (MgF2). While basic ITO-MgF2 film properties have been the subject of research over the last decade, further research is required in the areas of film durability for space-inflatable applications and precise film property control for large scale commercial production. In this paper, the authors present film durability results for a folded polymer substrate and film resistance to vacuum UV darkening. The authors discuss methods and results in the area of film sheet resistivity measurement and active control, particularly dual-channel, plasma emission line measurement of ITO and MgF2 plasma sources. ITO-MgF2 film polymer coupon preparation is described as well as film deposition equipment, procedures and film characterization. Durability testing methods are also described. The pre- and post-test condition of the films is assessed microscopically and electrically. Results show that an approx. 500A ITO-18vol% MgF2 film is a promising candidate to protect PowerSphere polymer surfaces for Earth orbit missions. Preliminary data also indicate that in situ film measurement methods are promising for active film resistivity control in future large scale production. Future film research plans are also discussed.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20040182226.
AIAA Paper 2004-5639.
Second International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference; 16-19 Aug. 2004; Providence, RI; United States.
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