Luna coating provides radiation protection in space

Adam Goff Senior Research Scientist and Protective Materials Team Lead

Charge Dissipating Transparent Conformal Coating for Spacecraft Electronics

  Space mission planners are continually striving to push technologies further to explore new and environmentally harsh regions of the universe.  Associated space systems must meet their performance requirements regardless of environmental conditions and their engineering design and construction are paramount to their success.  A possible future mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, for example, would encounter radiation levels seven times greater than Earth’s geostationary orbit.  In addition to the Jovian and other outer planet environments, highly charged environments can also exist at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), and Polar Low Earth Orbit (PLEO) owing to solar winds/storms and trapped radiation belts.  There is therefore a need for advanced materials to protect sensitive spacecraft electronics from harsh energetic conditions across a variety of different mission platforms.  To serve this need, Luna has developed a charge dissipating conductive conformal coating to enable greater radiation hardening and electrostatic discharge (ESD) mitigation for spacecraft electronics. The coating is deemed LUNA XP-CD-B and was developed through a NASA STTR Phase I project (Contract #NNX11C129P).  The coating meets the required volume resistivity of 1×108 – 1×1012 ohm-cm for ESD protection across a wide temperature range, is optically transparent, inspectable under ultraviolet light, easy to apply and repair, low outgassing, and has excellent adhesion and flexibility. The coating offers performance properties of both common conformal coating protection and radiation hardening through ESD mitigation. The addition of ESD protection in a single conformal coating gives spacecraft designers a new tool to protect sensitive electronics from hazardous radiation environments, while simultaneously reducing spacecraft complexity, weight, and cost.

Figure 1: The LUNA XP-CD-B coating applied to an IPC-B-25A test board (left), and example room temperature volume resistivity data for the coating obtained via ASTM D257 testing acquired by The Aerospace Corporation (right).
Figure 1: The LUNA XP-CD-B coating applied to an IPC-B-25A test board (left), and example room temperature volume resistivity data for the coating obtained via ASTM D257 testing acquired by The Aerospace Corporation (right).

Luna has partnered with NASA Langley Research Center to supply the XP-CD-B coating for evaluation under the upcoming Shields-1 CubeSat mission.  A CubeSat is a type of miniaturized satellite intended to enable cost-efficient space research via a standardized form factor and mass.  Shields-1 focuses on enabling future research and commercial space technology missions by reducing the harmful effects of harsh radiation environments to spacecraft.  The mission is slated for launch in late 2015 and will serve as a test bed for a variety of radiation protective materials.  The Luna coating will be demonstrated via resistivity measurement as a function of temperature throughout the mission.  A successful outcome will pave the way for future space system integrators to utilize the Luna coating for electronics protection during possible GEO, MEO, Polar LEO and Outer Planets exploratory missions. For more information on Luna’s XP-CD-B charge dissipating coating, please contact Adam Goff at 434-220-2513 or goffa@lunainc.com. Shields_brochure1

Figure 2: An overview of the Shields-1 CubeSat mission describing the types of experiments to be conducted. (Courtesy NASA Langley Research Center)
Figure 2: An overview of the Shields-1 CubeSat mission describing the types of experiments to be conducted. (Courtesy NASA Langley Research Center)

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