Abstract

Modifications of material surface properties due to interactions with ambient atomic oxygen have been observed on surfaces facing the orbital direction in low earth orbits. Some effects are very damaging to surface optical properties while some are more subtle and even beneficial. Most combustible materials are heavily etched, and some coatings, such as silver and osmium, are seriously degraded or removed as volatile oxides. The growth of oxide films on metals and semiconductors considered stable in dry air was measured. Material removal, surface roughness, reflectance, and optical densities are reported. Effects of temperature, contamination, and overcoatings are noted.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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