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Monday, 16 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Applications, Protective & Marine coatings

“Curiosity” coating survives long-term exposure to space environment

Friday, 2 November 2012

Paint-like spray coating was exposed to the harsh space environment for four years as part of the Materials on International Space Station Experiment investigation.

Mission Specialist Patrick Forrester opens a MISSE, passive experiment container installed on the International Space Station airlock

Source: NASA

Mission Specialist Patrick Forrester opens a MISSE, passive experiment container installed on the International Space Station airlock

Source: NASA

A coating that survived long-term exposure on the International Space Station took an even longer journey on the Mars "CuriosityRover and is protecting the craft's critical power unit as it collects data on Mars.

"Curiosity”'s paint-like spray coating, "AZ-2100-IECW”, was exposed to the harsh space environment for four years as part of the Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) investigation. The coating, tested and developed by AZ Technology in Huntsville, Ala., met stringent outgassing requirements and withstood temperature extremes and thousands of hours of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, making it an ideal candidate for the cooling fins on Curiosity's power unit.

Data on the durability of materials

The MISSE materials test bed has provided data on the durability of materials that have helped spacecraft designers shorten the development time for satellite hardware components by 50 %. Shorter development times result in more affordable spacecraft and ensure materials perform as expected in challenging space environments.
The EC in the coating used for "Curiosity” stands for electrically conductive. Static electricity can build up on a spacecraft as it is exposed to proton and electron radiation. Electrically conductive or static-dissipative coatings can help protect the electronics from getting zapped. AZ Technology's coating was applied on the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG. This power unit converts the heat from decaying plutonium-238 into electricity that the "Curiosity” rover needs to survive.

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