DUNMORE Films and Tapes Work Hard in Space


BRISTOL, PA | DUNMORE Corp. reports its insulating products have protected the European Space Agency's Rosetta space probe, its sensitive instruments, and the Philae lander from the harsh environment of space from the time of the probe’s launch on March 2, 2004.

DUNMORE’s role in the mission revolved around its multilayer insulation (MLI) films and polyimide tapes. The DuPont Kapton polyimide-based films are layered together with protective separation films to create blankets ranging from 10–30 layers thick, depending upon the type and level of protection required at each location on the spacecraft.

The films are stacked together, cut into complex shapes to cover each component of the spacecraft, then sewn together and secured with polyimide tapes. Company says the resulting MLI blankets both absorb and reflect radiant energy and provide protection against impact from micrometeoroids.

Rosetta has traveled more than 4 billion miles (6.5 billion kilometers) since launch. While the spacecraft flew in hibernation mode for nearly three years, it rotated on its axis about once each minute, constantly exposing each surface of the spacecraft to alternating heat from the sun and to frigid cold; temperature variations at the surface of the craft spanned a range of 300 deg C. It passed through the asteroid belt in hibernation mode, risking micrometeoroid damage. In spite of the harsh environment of space, Rosetta is currently in orbit around Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko and launched its Philae lander on November 12, marking the first time a man-made object attempted to land on a comet.

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