"It looks promising," Straka said. "It collects significantly more contaminants than other approaches."
Advantages Over Current Techniques
Instrument developers currently use zeolite-coated cordierite devices that look like hockey pucks. Because each individual puck has limited adsorbing capabilities, instrument designers must install multiple units, which require complex mounting hardware. "These devices are big, heavy and chunky, and take up a lot of real estate," explained Co-Principal Investigator Mark Hasegawa, of NASA Goddard.
The new paint, however, overcomes these limitations by providing a low-mass alternative. Because technicians can spray the paint directly onto surfaces, no extra mounting equipment is necessary. In addition, technicians can coat adhesive strips or tape and then place these pieces in strategic locations within an instrument, spacecraft cavity, or vacuum system, further simplifying adsorber design. "This is an easy technology to insert at a relatively low risk and cost," Hasegawa said "The benefits are significant."
Since its development, Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, Calif.; the European Space Agency; the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder; and Spica Technologies of Hollis, N.H., have expressed interest in using the material, Straka said. In addition, NASA's ICESat2 ATLAS project is evaluating its use, pending the outcome of additional tests, she said.
The team plans to tweak its recipe to enhance the paint's performance and experiment with different pigments, mainly black, to create a coating to absorb stray light that can overcome the light scientists actually want to gather. Straka also believes the technology could be used on the International Space Station or future space habitats to trap pollutants and odors in crew quarters.
"We're ready for primetime," Straka said. "The coati
|Contact: Lori Keesey|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center