Corrosion testing for space applications involves exposing materials and coatings to the appropriate environments that attempt to mimic the conditions of space. The space environment is characterized by high levels of radiation, vacuum conditions, extreme temperatures, and atomic oxygen, which can all affect the corrosion resistance of materials and coatings. Such tests can be done in either laboratory conditions or actually in space on small satellites or the International Space Station.
Corrosion testing for space in laboratory applications usually involves exposure of materials and coatings to high energy radiation, atomic oxygen and cyclically fluctuating temperatures.
Corrosion testing in the actual space environment has been historically done by attaching the studied substrates onto dedicated racks that are placed outside of a space station. After a predetermined exposure time to the space environment the samples are retrieved and shipped down to Earth for thorough characterization with scientific instruments.
Corrosion testing in space can nowadays also be done on small satellites by using the corrosion testing modules (a-d) provided by Captain Corrosion. In this case, the tested materials are applied onto the modules that are then installed onto the satellite. Due to the small weight and size of the modules, they can even be used on conventional 1U cube satellites.