NASA instrumentation is at risk for contamination from dusty space environments. Additionally, contamination from water and ice buildup can affect instrumentation function. Researchers at the Goddard Space Flight Center have developed a viable dust, water, and ice mitigation optical coating for space flight, aeronautical, and ground applications. The innovation of the LOTUS coating prevents contamination on sensitive surfaces, like optics, that cannot be cleaned during space missions.
In addition to previous LOTUS coating formulations, an additional optical formulation may be applied via vacuum deposition. This coating forms a top layer and may be applied in different thicknesses that serve to enhance its hydrophobic properties.
The vacuum deposited material may comprise fluorinated ethylene propylene or a similar material. This coating is transparent and can be used on optical components or any other applications requiring a clear coating.
Some of the key features of the coatings are that it adheres to a variety of common materials, prevents dust and water-based contamination as well as that it’s optically clear and extremely scalable.
The technology has several potential applications including remote sensing, earth imaging, and communications.