Sunday, July 30, 2017


Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 This week we would like to introduce you to a unique project currently in the works under the supervision of ESA. Called the Low Earth Orbit Facility (LEOX), this simulator utilizes a laser to generate a variety of oxygen that is normally encountered only in low orbits - special oxygen known to eat away at satellite surfaces.
 Atomic oxygen made its debut in the early 1980s when engineers were surprised to discovered early Space Shuttles' thermal blankets had severely eroded. These special oxygen molecules are the result of standard oxygen molecules being broken apart by powerful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
 To create atomic oxygen, LEOX injects purified molecular oxygen into a vacuum chamber with a pulsing laser beam focused upon it.With each firing of the laser, the oxygen is converted into hot plasma which is channelled along a conical nozzle. Afterwards, it dissociates into a highly energetic beam of atomic oxygen.
 In the end, LEOX will be another helpful tool for the agency to test future materials in low-orbiting missions - such as those orbiting close to the top of Earth's atmosphere, and potentially missions to other worlds.
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