Project: Corrosion Testing in Space

Introduction:

Space is a hostile environment for many materials and this limits their use in many space related applications. Furthermore, many novel materials have not been tested in space because these experiments can be quite sophisticated and expensive. For instance, a material could be brought up to the International Space Station, kept for a while in space and then brought back down to Earth for further investigations. Therefore we propose a simpler and more affordable solution, which is a small corrosion testing module for space experiments, that can be attached to small satellites.

 

Corrosion Testing Module

The module consists of two main components – a) an electronic measurement device (see project EU51950) and b) an appropriate test system with the tested materials and coatings. In our experiment, we will be using this module to test an advanced nanostructured coating (Patented by University of Tartu) and a smart radiation shielding material, which is developed for space applications by Captain Corrosion OÜ.

The coating is essentially applied to a thin wire and the electronic device is used to measure the change of the electrical resistance of the wire. An uncoated wire would naturally get oxidized and eroded by atomic oxygen at LEO (Low Earth Orbit), which would lead to a higher electrical resistance. The advanced nanostructured coating on the second wire however, should be able to significantly enhance the lifespan of the wire by protecting it against the damaging effect of atomic oxygen. This patented nanostructured coating is essentially synthesized in two steps, where in the first step the substrate is electrochemically treated (anodized) in order to create a nanostructured sub-layer. In the second step, the nanostructured sub-layer is filled and coated by atomic layer deposition with a suitable material.

The smart radiation shielding material is essentially a multi-layered structure, which is assembled from carefully selected materials in order to efficiently reduce the damaging effect of ionizing radiation to electronic devices in space.

 

Partners & Funding

ESTCube group assists us with the planning of this experiment and with the integration of our corrosion testing module to the student satellite ESTCube-2. Once the satellite is in space, we will also carry out the tests with them.

Laboratory of Thin Film Technology (University of Tartu) is our main partner for assembling the test system, where we will test the patented nanostructured coating and also for carrying out laboratory-based materials characterization measurements and tests. They are also included in planning the space experiment.

Hedgehog OÜ is our main partner in project EU51950, where they assemble and program the electronic measurement device, that is necessary for our corrosion testing module. 30% of the project costs are covered by Captain Corrosion OÜ and 70% by Enterprise Estonia (EAS).