The effect of on-orbit molecular contamination has the potential to degrade the performance of spaceflight hardware
and diminish the lifetime of the spacecraft. For example, sensitive surfaces, such as optical surfaces, electronics,
detectors, and thermal control surfaces, are vulnerable to the damaging effects of contamination from outgassed
materials. The current solution to protect these surfaces is through the use of zeolite coated ceramic adsorber pucks.
However, these pucks and its additional complex mounting hardware requirements result in several disadvantages,
such as size, weight, and cost related concerns, that impact the spacecraft design and the integration and test
schedule. As a result, a new innovative molecular adsorber coating was developed as a sprayable alternative to
mitigate the risk of on-orbit molecular contamination.
In this study, the formulation for molecular adsorber coatings was optimized using various binders, pigment
treatment methods, binder to pigment ratios, thicknesses, and spray application techniques. The formulas that passed
coating adhesion and vacuum thermal cycling were further tested for its adsorptive capacity. Accelerated molecular
capacitance tests were performed in an innovatively designed multi-unit system containing idealized contaminant
sources. This novel system significantly increased the productivity of the testing phase for the various formulations
that were developed. Work performed during the development and testing phases has demonstrated successful
application of molecular adsorber coatings onto metallic substrates, as well as, very promising results for the
adhesion performance and the molecular capacitance of the coating. Continued testing will assist in the qualification
of molecular adsorber coatings for use on future contamination sensitive spaceflight missions.