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Proceedings Paper

Surface accommodation of molecular contaminants
Author(s): Philip T. C. Chen; Randy J. Hedgeland; Shaun R. Thomson
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Paper Abstract

The transport of molecules, under vacuum conditions, from a source surface to a receiving surface is of major concern from the perspective of spacecraft contamination control. The transport phenomena involved is a complex mechanism comprising the physical characteristics of each surface, the properties of contaminant species participating, and the temperatures of both surfaces. Because of both the complex nature and the limited data available to describe such a phenomena, contamination modeling usually requires that a highly simplified engineering approach be undertaken. One area where this is particularly true is in the representation of the surface accommodation of incident molecules. When a molecule in the gas phase collides with the surface of a receiver it can either "stick" to that surface or be scattered away. Molecules accommodated by this surface become thermally equilibrated to the receiver temperature while the material that is not accommodated retains its original energy and undergoes specular reflection. The ratio of this thermally accommodated mass to the total incident mass is known as the "accommodation" or "sticking" coefficient. Most of the current theory and experimental work performed to date has been restricted to the accommodation coefficients of the rare gases in contact with metal surfaces3'10"1. UnfortUnately, the results generated by these studies cannot be made very useful to spacecraft contamination engineers who are predominantly interested in environments where contaminants are typically limited only to water and long-chain hydrocarbons. Because of this deficiency most current spacecraft contamination analyses are forced to rely on general mathematical expressions that consider the sticking coefficient to be only a direct function of the temperature gradient between the emitting and receiving surfaces. The major shortcoming of the simplified method presently in use is that it may provide an inadequate representation of the actual molecular transport occurring between surfaces. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to study the nature of the transport mechanisms involved in the adsorption of high molecular weight gases on typical spacecraft surfaces, the overall concept of the sticking coefficient, and the quantitative and qualitative theory involved. In addition, this paper will examine some of the existing molecular accommodation data as it relates to spacecraft applications, as well as present new experimental data gathered by the Contamination Control Section of the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). All this information will then be correlated and used to verify the accuracy of the most common sticking coefficient equations in use by contamination analyses.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 November 1990
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 1329, Optical System Contamination: Effects, Measurement, Control II, (1 November 1990); doi: 10.1117/12.22614
Show Author Affiliations
Philip T. C. Chen, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Randy J. Hedgeland, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Shaun R. Thomson, EER Research Systems Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1329:
Optical System Contamination: Effects, Measurement, Control II
A. Peter M. Glassford, Editor(s)

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