Electrochromics is the science behind the film, which could be applied to outer surface of a spacecraft. By controlling voltage differential across the film, it is possible to change the film's ability to radiate waste heat into space or keep heat in a spacecraft. Very little power is needed, and the process is reversible.
Used on a spacecraft, the film can reduce launch weight, make future thermal design easier, reduce power consumption, and allow more accurate control of the spacecraft's inside temperature. The weight savings could be used to accommodate additional payloads, scientific instruments and astronauts. The film also could be used on satellites, space antennas, spacesuits and visors and robotic systems that will be placed on the Moon and other planets in the future.
There are many applications for this technology beyond space. It could be used to cover buildings and homes to reduce solar heat gain in the summer and decrease heat loss in the winter. One day, it could be possible to control the tint of a car window with the press of a button.
The variable emissivity film was manufactured by Eclipse Energy Systems Inc., of St. Petersburg, Fla., with joint financial sponsorship from Goddard and the U.S. Air Force.
Neither of the experiments would have reached space if not for the MidSTAR program. Billy Smith, Director of the Small Satellite Program and manager of the MidSTAR program at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., made it possible to launch these experiments on a limited budget.
"MidSTAR is the seventh piece of hardware that the small satellite program has flown. It's by far the most sophisticated and most ambitious," Smith said. "It's proven to be the most productive and all four experiments operating in space are producing excellent data.
|Contact: Rob Gutro|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center