Drucella Andersen Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

July 16, 1991 (Phone: 202/453-2754) Jean Drummond Clough Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. (Phone: 804/864-6122) RELEASE: 91-113 NASA'S LDEF YIELDS HARVEST OF SPACE SCIENCE DATA NASA's Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) yielded a rich harvest of data on the conditions in Earth orbit and how spacecraft materials and systems performed in that environment. LDEF, built by NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va., studied the space environment during a 69-month sojourn from April 1984 to January 1990. It was NASA's first opportunity to expose a spacecraft, with an intentionally-selected set of materials samples, to the harsh environment of space for a long duration and retrieve the spacecraft and samples for extensive laboratory analysis. The LDEF experiments gathered information on space radiation, atomic oxygen, meteoroids, contamination, space debris, space systems and life sciences and produced the following findings: --A meteoroid experiment on LDEF recorded the direction and precise time of more than 15,000 impacts. Analysis will provide clues to the origin and evolution of both natural meteoroids and man-made debris.

--LDEF was the first satellite to detect beta meteoroids -minute particles accelerated by solar radiation. Its experiments also identified debris particles from a number of Space Shuttle missions and apparently from other launch vehicles. --Several investigators reported impacts on LDEF's trailing edge. Researchers believe the impacts show for the first time that debris particles exist in elliptical orbits. - more -2--The in-orbit performance of protective paints varied dramatically. White polyurethane paint was darkened by ultraviolet radiation, but atomic oxygen continually swept away the darkened paint on LDEF's leading edge. The latter effect caused these surfaces to look freshly painted. --Many of the polymers on the leading surfaces of LDEF were eroded. Some Kapton thermal blankets completely eroded away from their experiments. Silvered Teflon thermal blankets suffered erosion, a decrease in mechanical properties and darkening and delamination around impact sites. Silicones and anodized aluminum, were unaffected by atomic oxygen. --LDEF gathered a large body of data about induced radioactivity in aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, lead, copper and nickel. Researchers found radioactive beryllium-7 on LDEF's leading surfaces -- the first known evidence for radioactive isotope accumulation onto an orbiting spacecraft. --Three cosmic ray experiments showed good sensitivity and resolution. The measurements are six times more sensitive than before. --Most living specimens remained alive after exposure to varying degrees of radiation during their journey in space. Shrimp had shortened life spans and some genetic mutations. Plants grown from space-exposed seeds had variegated leaves and flower buds. Some leaf parts were a normal green, others totally lacked chlorophyll. These experiments are part of continuing international studies to increase knowledge of space environmental effects on biological organisms.

--Very few electrical or mechanical system failures were caused by the spaceflight environment. Some low-cost electrical components were used successfully, but relays were a continuing problem. The tape recorders functioned well, and data tapes had no loss of stored information. --Researchers unexpectedly observed scoring on metal surfaces that had rubbed together, but saw no evidence of cold welding. Cold welding is the solid-state metallic bonding between atoms on opposing surfaces. LDEF carried 57 different science and technology experiments. Investigators continue to study the LDEF results and draw conclusions that will contribute to the knowledge base for long-lasting space endeavors such as Space Station Freedom, the Earth Observing System and exploration of the Moon and Mars. - end EDITORS NOTE: Photographs and background information to accompany this release are available from the Langley public affairs office, 804/864-6122. LDEF: TESTBED FOR SPACE STATION FREEDOM--AND BEYOND NASA's Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) connected a variety of experiments to form a family of space science applications. Those experiments are providing a bonanza of data about the long-term effects of the low Earth orbit environment. A recurring theme at the first LDEF PostRetrieval Symposium was how that information will help the engineers and scientists planning Space Station Freedom. Bruce Banks, tasked with finding the appropriate protective coating for Freedom's solar arrays, said, "We have looked at various silicones, such as the SiOx coating and silicon-filled Kapton and conventional Kapton that could be used on the solar arrays. We think that the SiOx coating on either side of two sheets of polyamide Kapton will be sufficient to withstand the atomic oxygen influence on the solar arrays." Banks, an LDEF principal investigator from NASA's Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, explained that the two sheets are layered together with fiberglass netting and silicon to give a sandwich effect. This coating should meet the 15-year materials requirement for Freedom.

Investigators are also looking at the integrity of LDEF systems data and preliminary results to compare different coatings available to protect Freedom's large radiators. Banks said one coating, a black paint called Z-93, held up very well on the LDEF Marshall Space Flight Center experiments. The paint seems to offer several advantages. Its aerial density is lower and it is significantly lighter than other paints. It is a high-performance, durable coating with good long-term performance properties and it showed little darkening during LDEF's orbital stay. Z-93 flew on Apollo and Skylab, so investigators have reasonable confidence in it. "We realize that you can reduce the amount of power needed on Freedom and save considerable weight--1200 pounds compared to Teflon--on the radiator surfaces with Z-93. You'd need a fairly thick coating of silver Teflon on the radiators to have them survive for 15 years," Banks said. "Z-93 is now considered the baseline candidate on the restructured Space Station Freedom." "One very important finding from LDEF is how incredibly stable it remained during its 5.9 years in space," said Sally Little, liaison between the LDEF Science Office and the Space Station Freedom office at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. "Freedom will be designed to remain stable as well, although its altitude will differ. LDEF brings home how important it is to protect the leading surfaces of a space system. - more -2"We are using that information to help us determine how much shielding we need against the debris environment," Little noted. "We are confident now, however, that we don't need as much meteoroid and debris shielding on the trailing side of Freedom. We can save weight, reduce the maintenance requirements and ultimately save money--a direct result of the LDEF experience." "It's imperative that the investigators in highly

specialized disciplines come together to integrate, synthesize and disseminate this information into the community," said Little, "That's what the symposium was all about. We must translate this scientific information into terms that people in other disciplines can understand. In order for us to know how the electronics survived, for example, we have to understand radiation and its effects." "It's so important to have a mission like LDEF," Little added. "It is allowing us to extrapolate data and compare it with ground data to determine the life of many materials for future missions. LDEF is definitely confirming how detrimental the space environment can be. A 7-day Space Shuttle mission is one thing; a 6-year LDEF mission is something else." Looking further into the future, scientists are considering what the LDEF results mean for the design of lunar bases and Mars-bound spacecraft. For example, no radiation effects were observed in LDEF surface materials, but possible radiation effects were reported in uncovered solar cells, electronics and quartz crystal resonators. The effects of directional properties of trapped protons were clearly observed in aluminum tray clamps and stainless steel trunnion layers. "These data will provide a high-precision test of new trapped proton directional models, said Tom Parnell, chairman of the radiation special investigation group from Marshall Space Flight Center. "Due to LDEF's long exposure and stability, the data base is unique and important for planning radiation shielding in future space systems." LDEF's impact won't be limited to hardware. The life science experiment that probably received the most attention was SEEDS (Space Exposed Experiment Developed for Students), which involved distributing 12.5 million tomato seeds to over 3.5 million students. "Reports show that space-flown seeds had slightly higher germination rates than unflown seeds," said William Kinard, Head, LDEF Science Office. This may indicate that space can be used to store seed material in the future. But the stimulus that this experiment has provided to student interest in science, may prove to be its most important contribution." - end -