Spectroscopic evaluation of polyurea crosslinked aerogels, as a substitute for RTV-based chromatic calibration targets for spacecraft


Room temperature vulcanizing (RTV)-based components have been used on Mars Pathfinder, the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, as well as the Phoenix Lander as a support matrix for pigmented panoramic camera calibration targets. RTV 655 has demonstrated superiority to other polymers due to its unique range of material properties namely mechanical stability between -115 and 204 °C and UV radiation tolerance. As a result, it has been the number one choice for many space-related missions. However, due to the high mass density and the natural tendency for electrostatic charging RTV materials have caused complications by attracting and retaining dust particles (Sabri et al.; 2008). In the current project we have investigated the relevant properties of polymer-reinforced (crosslinked) silica aerogels with the objective of substituting RTV-based calibration targets with an aerogel based design. The lightweight, mechanical strength, ability to accept color pigments, and extremely low dust capture makes polyurea crosslinked aerogels a strong candidate as a chromatic standard for extraterrestrial missions. For this purpose, the reflection spectra, gravimetric analysis, and low temperature response of metal oxide pigmented, polyurea crosslinked silica aerogels have been investigated and reported here. © 2010 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Advances in Space Research