This program will address the stated need from the National Space Weather Strategy and Action plan to “enhance the Protection of National Security, Homeland Security, and Commercial Assets and Operations against the Effects of Space Weather”. Specifically, we will develop and demonstrate an ion erosion resistant passive high emissivity coating that mitigates charging and erosion effects brought on by ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation occurs as a result of space weather events like solar flares or cosmic rays and has the potential to incur cascading spacecraft damage that could lead to loss of key services such as communications, national security, remote sensing, and environmental monitoring. In Phase I we will develop a scalable electrophoretic deposition approach to apply tunable erosion resistant and highly emissive passive coatings consisting of mixtures of low work function ceramics and hard/conductive boron doped diamond materials. Both electrophoretic deposition cell and process parameters will be optimized to obtain the desired performance. The coating development activities will be guided by an evaluation of the electron-emitting properties of the coating before and after Xenon ion sputtering, across a broad range of energies, and identify first and second crossover energies, maximum yields, and energies of maximum yields. Finally, we will estimate the feasibility of transitioning this technology to pertinent spacecraft components of interest to NASA and our Phase II commercialization partners. In Phase II, Faraday, USU, and commercial partners will apply the optimized coatings to testable components and expose them to simulated launch conditions, space weather, ionospheric charging, and ion sputtering erosion. If successful we envision these materials could then be applied to platforms used within Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) for further qualification, optimization, and validation within Phase III.
This next generation ion erosion resistant high emissivity passive coating, based on low work function materials, will enable enhance durability, effectiveness, and lifetime of spacecraft and satellite components subjected to space weather ionizing radiation events. The resulting product of this work could be applied to any spacecraft component or material that could be subjected to such harsh environmental challenges. Furthermore, it would be of interest to platforms include spacecraft skin, solar panels, circuit boards, and emitters.
At the end of a successful program we envision our initial entry point will be focused on improving the resilience of solar cells due to ongoing relationships with solar cell manufacturers and the known challenges associated with space weather events occurring on these materials. Subsequent opportunities will be for other commercial satellite components that suffer from space weather effects.