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Proceedings Paper

Optical coatings in space
Author(s): D. Wernham
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Paper Abstract

The environment in space is a particularly harsh one for optical coatings. For porous coatings, space vacuum causes a spectral shift and a resulting change in stress due to water release. Atomic oxygen present in Low Earth Orbits causes erosion of coatings. Space also has a harsh radiation environment which can cause absorptive losses in optics due to colour centre activation. Coatings exposed to solar radiation are subject to UV fixation of outgassing contaminants. Similarly, high power laser irradiation of coatings in the presence of contaminant outgassing sources results in laser-induced contamination, high absorption and potential laser damage. An important effect for high power laser optics is the reduction of the laser-induced damage thresholds of porous coatings in vacuum. An additional factor is the often high thermal excursion coatings can experience in space, typically ranging from -50°C to +80°C, notwithstanding deep space missions which involve cryogenic temperatures where coatings which have to withstand -270°C and coatings to the inner planets which may have to survive temperatures in excess of 300°C. This paper attempts to give a general overview of the effects of the space environment on optical coatings giving some examples from tests carried out by the European Space Agency.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 October 2011
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 8168, Advances in Optical Thin Films IV, 81680F (4 October 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.902318
Show Author Affiliations
D. Wernham, European Space Agency (Netherlands)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8168:
Advances in Optical Thin Films IV
Michel Lequime; H. Angus Macleod; Detlev Ristau, Editor(s)

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