Is SpaceX contaminating the International Space Station? - Daily Mail

NASA is investigating contamination on the International Space Station – and paint on a SpaceX capsule could be to blame.

Sensors onboard the ISS designed to measure ozone molecules and aerosols in Earth's atmosphere.

SpaceX Dragon cargo capsules – and it is believed to be.

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Sensors onboard the ISS designed to measure ozone molecules and aerosols in Earth's atmosphere.

Sensors onboard the ISS designed to measure ozone molecules and aerosols in Earth's atmosphere.

Sensors onboard the ISS designed to measure ozone molecules and aerosols in Earth's atmosphere.

HOW COULD THE ISS BE DAMAGED?

From the space assets at risk from the capsule's outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole for astronauts and instruments.

CATS, an instrument that measures smoke, pollution, dust, and other particles in the planet's atmosphere could also have its results skewed.

In total, seven sensitive areas or instruments on the ISS, including SAGE, could be contaminated beyond the limit, Wired claims.

The SAGE III sensor, which was launched in February 2017, saw unexplained spikes in contamination when the Dragons docked at the Space Station.

Molecules were released by the capsule in reaction known as outgassing, causing them to stick to SAGE.

The phenomenon happens when the molecules are trapped inside the vehicle.

In space, these could be delicate measurements being taken.

They can also create a film, which could impact portholes on the station.

To stop the problem, most space hardware is built in clean rooms and even 'baked' to remove contaminants.

NASA was at first baffled by the rise.

'An external payload is both a source and a receiver of contamination,' a NASA report into contamination warned.

ISS Space Environments Team considers both roles during integration of the payload.

'An external payload is both a source and a receiver of contamination,' a NASA report into contamination warned.

'An external payload is both a source and a receiver of contamination,' a NASA report into contamination warned.

'An external payload is both a source and a receiver of contamination,' a NASA report into contamination warned.

'Thus, Space Environments must evaluate the external payloads as contamination sources,

Experts now believe the ISS issue may be down to outgassing from the visiting Dragon capsule.

Antonius de Rooij, author of the Space Materials Database, told Wired he believes the paint is the probable problem.

He said the size of the capsules, could be key to the problem.

Allowed to be tested, according to this presentation, up to 21 times the amount of contamination on one sensor.

SpaceX says NASA pre-approved all the materials used in the Dragon, and said it is working with a new variant of paint.

WHAT IS THE SAGE SENSOR?

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS (SAGE III-ISS) measures Earth's sunscreen, or ozone, along with other gases and aerosols, or tiny particles in the atmosphere.

SAGE III-ISS makes its measurements by locking onto the sun or moon and scanning the limb, or thin profile of the atmosphere.

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS

The Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-ISS

The instrument makes these measurements from the unique vantage point of the International Space Station (ISS), which increases the scientific value of SAGE III-ISS observations.

The SAGE III sensor launched in February 2017

'SpaceX has scrutinized all external material selections on Dragon and is working with suppliers to develop the molecular deposition rate,' it said.

The white paint is made by Alion, and was developed for NASA and SpaceX.

'For decades,' said Michael Kenny, senior chemist with Alion, said when it was first used.

From the space assets at risk from the capsule's outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole for astronauts and instruments. Pictured, Jeff Williams, Expedition 13 Science Officer, at the U.S. Laboratory Science Window on the ISS.

From the space assets at risk from the capsule's outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole for astronauts and instruments. Pictured, Jeff Williams, Expedition 13 Science Officer, at the U.S. Laboratory Science Window on the ISS.

From the space assets at risk from the capsule's outgassing is the U.S. Laboratory Science Window, a porthole for astronauts and instruments. Pictured, Jeff Williams, Expedition 13 Science Officer, at the U.S. Laboratory Science Window on the ISS.

Dragonfly dragon cargo capsules - and it is believed to be a problem.

Dragonfly dragon cargo capsules - and it is believed to have been to be blame.

Dragonfly dragon cargo capsules – and it is believed to have been to be blame.

As space missions evolved, there was a build up on the exteriors of spacecraft, or there could be damage to the spacecraft's electronics.

'Alion' s research led to the development of thermal controls. The outcome of this research was Alion's proprietary Z-93C55 coating. '

However, if Alion Z-93 gets contaminated after curing, it's prone to degradation when UV rays hit it, a phenomenon first documented in 1971.

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