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What Coatings Face In Space
There is a big difference between painting a spacecraft and redoing the trim on your house. Paint that will look good for years on your home, would be brown in a week in space. Coatings on the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft are constantly bombarded by an array of elements that can cause it to deteriorate quickly; particulate radiation, residual atmosphere, space debris, solar emitted energy, Earth emitted energy, and spacecraft emissions. As well, the coatings must withstand extremes of temperature and a vacuum environment.
AZ Technology developed many of its existing line of materials, paints and coatings for use on spacecraft. These are designed to be, low-outgassing so as to withstand vacuum, space
stable and to meet toxicity and flammability requirements. Many of the white and black coatings were designed to control the interior temperature of the spacecraft by switching between reflective and absorptive properties at different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. These have been shown to maintain these optical properites after years of exposure in orbit. Color is also determined by reflective and absorptive properties at different wavelengths in the visible spectrum and AZ coatings have shown color stability in space through years of testing and use on the International Space Station (ISS).
Most of our existing line of color coatings have been exposed to the space environment for long periods of time on the Optical Properties Monitor (OPM) attached to the outside of the Russian MIR space station (appox.9 months), the MIR MEEP POSA-I experiment (approx. 1 year) and/or the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) attached to the outside of the International Space Station (approx. 4 years). As well as being used to paint the NASA, ESA and ASI logos and the US flag on the ISS.