Stress-Accelerated Photodegradation of Space-Rated Flexible Transparent Films Exposed to Mars Surface UV 2005-01-2775
Thin films continue to play an ever-increasing role in high performance structures for space exploration.
Membrane structures have been developed or envisioned for such applications as scientific balloons, deep space antennas, Earth radiometers, radars, concentrators, telescopes, sun shields, solar sails, solar arrays, spacecraft booms, and planetary surface habitats. Inflatable membrane structures can have very high packaging efficiencies, are easy to construct at remote locations and are lightweight because pressure differences provide structural stabilization without the need for rigid supports or internal framework. Recent proposals have suggested construction of an inflatable greenhouse from transparent polymer films for Mars surface operations. This paper reports on the progress to examine the effects of mechanical loading on the rates of photodegradation in transparent polymer films exposed to simulated Mars ultraviolet radiation. Status of hardware development and initial testing are presented.