Mary Sandy Headquarters, Washington, D.C. February 13, 1990 (Phone: 202/453-2754) Embargoed until 11 A.M.

EST Jean Drummond Clough Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. (Phone: 804/864-6122) RELEASE: 90-23 CLOSE-UP INSPECTION OF LONG DURATION EXPOSURE FACILITY BEGINS NASA officials and principal scientific investigators making their first close inspection of the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., report that the spacecraft looks much like they expected and hoped for after its extended stay in space. LDEF's 57 experiments provide a unique opportunity to study significant long-term effects of spaceflight on a broad range of materials and components, as well as on living organisms. The spacecraft was retrieved by the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia on January 12. LDEF's exterior shows obvious effects from nearly 6-years' exposure to bombardment by micrometeoroids and orbital debris, atomic oxygen impingement and the Sun's ultraviolet rays. LDEF will provide unprecedented data on the changes caused by the combination of these environmental parameters, because accurate simulations of the complex space environment are difficult to perform on Earth. These and other effects will be evaluated in detail once LDEF's experiments are removed for subsequent testing and analysis. Discolorations or physical changes appear on many of LDEF's thermal control and optical surface experiments. There seems to

be a significant contrast between the surfaces on the leading edge (facing the direction of flight) and those on the trailing edge. One major difference between these two sides of LDEF is the high exposure to atomic oxygen on the leading edge and very low exposure on the trailing edge. Many of the materials appear as expected for this extended exposure, while others look either more or less degraded compared to preflight estimates. - more -2 Observation of solar array and structural materials on LDEF's leading edge and surrounding rows reveals that all unprotected Kapton thin-film insulation appears to have eroded away. This Kapton erosion is responsible for the disappearance of three solar cell modules and a number of 1-mil polymer film materials on the Solar Array Materials Passive LDEF Experiment (SAMPLE). Kapton films protected with silicone coatings seem to have survived prolonged exposure to atomic oxygen, however, along with some silverized reflectors protected with ionic bonded solids. Researchers are somewhat surprised that observations show white Tedlar is intact, and that Kevlar 29 and 49 appear eroded, but whole. Two effects seen on SAMPLE and several other experiments are not understood at this time. Unbonded silvered teflon thermal blankets appear white, while the silvered teflon bonded to metallic substrates appears tarnished. Elastomer materials, typically used as seals, have greatly discolored. Some surface erosion occurred on the carbon fiber-epoxy matrix composite materials. Even though space debris impacts on the experiment's solar cells appear to be numerous, few of the cells look broken. The Thermal Control Surfaces Experiment (TCSE) is a once-active experiment that performed periodic in-space optical properties measurements of exposed thermal control and optical surfaces during LDEF's initial 15-18 months in space. This experiment will provide a record of the condition of the test materials during that period, and postflight laboratory analysis of the samples will determine any subsequent damage. In addition, the TCSE will be evaluated as a means to obtain important knowledge on the effects of long-term space exposure on complex optical, electronic and mechanical instrumentation.

The Chemical and Isotopic Measurements of Micrometeoroids by Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry measured isotopic composition of interplanetary dust. A special capture cell on the front of LDEF and two capture cells on the back collected vapor and debris fragments from impacts. When particles penetrated the foils, they should have "exploded" on hitting the plates beneath, producing a plume of vapor and debris that would redeposit on the underside of the plastic. Unfortunately, many capture cells suffered catastrophic rupture of the thin entrance plastic films during LDEF's longer-than-planned sojourn in space. But if the plastic was in place when impacts occurred, there should be a spray of vapor and debris on the germanium plates that can be analyzed. The initial look from about six feet away shows at least half of the front-facing cells have visible impacts; at the microscopic level there probably will be many more. The knowledge gained from LDEF will be used to design a more complex interplanetary dust experiment, one that will differentiate between dust from comets and asteroids, for Space Station Freedom. - more -3 The Heavy Ions in Space (HIIS) experiment used plastic track detectors to measure the abundance of chemical elements in cosmic radiation. The experiment should offer new insights into the origin of chemical elements and may show how the elemental composition of the Solar System differs from that of the rest of the galaxy. The data also will improve our knowledge of radiation hazards faced by astronauts and by modern micro-electronic components in space. On seven of the eight HIIS modules, multilayer insulation thermal blankets partially detached and rolled up while LDEF was in orbit. The loss of temperature control and exposure of some of the detector material to direct sunlight probably resulted in some data loss. The thermal blanket on the eighth HIIS module is largely intact and may have preserved the data in that module. Still another experiment, Space Exposed Experiment Developed for Students (SEEDS), looks good and all hardware is intact on the tray, suggesting that the seeds have been protected as planned. After preliminary growth tests, the 12.5 million tomato

seeds that flew aboard LDEF will be distributed to U.S. students in grades 5 through university for use in classroom research. Experiment trays will be removed from LDEF around February 22 and delivered to the principal investigators. By the end of April, all experiments should be in the hands of the investigators and analyses of the experiments underway. Results from the LDEF mission will furnish invaluable data for design of future space structures, such as Space Station Freedom, as well as insight into Earth's cosmic origins.

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TO: MDS/PRA Group 1615 L Street, N.W. - Suite 100 Washington, D.C. 20036 DATE & TIME: FEBRUARY 13,1990. 2:56pm ORDERED BY: Edward Campion NASA Headquarters/LMD 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20546 PHONE: 202/453-8400 PROJECT TITLE: Release No: 90-23 PRINT ORDER: 2208 PRINTING: Camera Ready, lst pg on NASA logo, other pages plain ENCLOSE & MAIL: Release of 3 pages MAIL DATE: FEBRUARY 14, 1990 EXTRA COPIES: 50 copies -------------------Deliver specified quanities to locations below: 275 copies 75 copies ------------------- -----------------

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