Although scientists believe atomic oxygen
makes up 96 percent of the thin atmosphere in low-Earth orbit, Herrero is interested in measuring its density and determining more precisely its role in creating atmospheric drag, which can cause orbiting spacecraft to lose altitude prematurely and plunge to Earth.
The researchers placed the samples in a vacuum chamber and bombarded them with atomic oxygen
These hydroxyl radicals will either react with impurities in the air to break them down or react at night with nitrogen dioxide to form nitric acid, which is either washed out of the atmosphere by rain or broken down by sunlight the next day into hydroxyl radicals, nitric oxide, and atomic oxygen
Whiteshell Laboratories, working in partnership with ASPEN Systems -- a Massachusetts company that creates polymers for satellite manufacturing -- has created a new polymer that should withstand atomic oxygen
However, polymer films and composite structures in the LEO are subjected to exposure to atomic oxygen
(AO), ultraviolet (UV) radiation, vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) radiation, and other solar radiation.
CORIN XLS was developed with funding from the Air Force Research Laboratory as a coating for high strength fibers exposed to atomic oxygen
and ultraviolet degradation in low earth orbit.
ManTech's CORIN XLS Polyimide is a colorless, sprayable polyimide nanocomposite that is clear, resistant to radiation and atomic oxygen
erosion, and utilizes POSS[R] technology from Hybrid Plastics.
NO2 will then react with atomic oxygen
to reform NO.
For phenyls and many other organics, Loy now burns his bridges with a room-temperature plasma of atomic oxygen
The part identification markings and tags -- which remain readable after exposure to the extreme levels of ultraviolet radiation, atomic oxygen
, hard vacuum, and contamination in low earth orbit -- will be evaluated and then certified for use on future space vehicles and added to NASA's part identification requirements.
According to ex-NASA astronaut Thomas Jones, a veteran of three spacewalks, the odor could stem from atomic oxygen
that clings to spacesuit fabric.
Of particular interest to NASA and Boeing researchers are experiments that gauged the effects of atomic oxygen
-- free atoms of oxygen -- on protective coatings.