Abstract

Two recently developed optical coatings, ion-beam-deposited silicon carbide and ion-beam-deposited boron carbide, are very attractive as coatings on optical components for instruments for space astronomy and earth sciences operating in the extreme-UV spectral region because of their high reflectivity, significantly higher than any conventional coating below 105 nm. To take full advantage of these coatings in space applications, it is important to establish their ability to withstand exposure to the residual atomic oxygen and other environmental effects at low-earth-orbit altitudes. The first two flights of the Surface Effects Sample Monitor experiments flown on the ORFEUS-SPAS and the CRISTA-SPAS Shuttle missions provided the opportunity to study the effects of space exposure on these materials. The results indicate a need to protect ion-beam-deposited silicon-carbide-coated optical components from environmental effects in a low-earth orbit. The boron-carbide thin-film coating is a more robust coating able to withstand short-term exposure to atomic oxygen in a low-earth-orbit environment.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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