NASA technology protects Webb Telescope from contamination

Published: 8-Jul-2015

Engineers are taking special care at NASA to prevent contamination from outgassing from affecting the James Webb Space Telescope. Thermal Coatings Engineer Nithin Abraham placed Molecular Adsorber Coating panels in the chamber where the Webb telescope will be tested

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Contamination can occur when vapour containing organic molecules is emitted by a substance – a process that is called ‘outgassing’. The ‘new car smell’ is an example of that, and is unhealthy both for people and for sensitive satellite instruments. So NASA engineers have created a new way to protect such instruments from the damaging effects of contamination coming from outgassing.

‘The Molecular Adsorber Coating (MAC) is a NASA Goddard coatings technology that was developed to adsorb or entrap outgassed molecular contaminants for spaceflight applications,’ said Nithin Abraham, Thermal Coatings Engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. MAC is currently serving as an innovative contamination mitigation tool for Chamber A operations at NASA Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. It can be used to keep outgassing from coming in from outside areas or to capture outgassing directly from hardware, components and within instrument cavities.

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