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Friday, May 17 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Collection Care) A Preliminary Study on the Use of a NASA-Developed Coatings Technology for Protecting Natural Science Collections from Molecular Contaminants

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Many museum conservators and collection managers are faced with the challenge of molecular contaminants that can promote the degradation of specimens on display in exhibits or in cabinets at storage facilities. This has prompted the need to explore innovative techniques to alleviate the presence of chemical species that originate from atmospheric off-gassing of materials or cross-contamination among collection items. For example, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) has tackled this problem for many years, specifically targeting contaminants, such as mercury vapor, at its Museum Support Center (MSC) storage facility in Suitland, Maryland. Similarly, the presence of molecular contaminants pose a significant threat for NASA science and exploration missions. The deposition of chemical species on sensitive surfaces can degrade the performance and operational lifetime of satellites, telescopes, and instruments. As a result, a sprayable zeolite-based coatings technology was designed to passively capture molecular contaminants and reduce the risks associated with material outgassing in vacuum environments for aerospace applications. This technology, called the Molecular Adsorber Coating (MAC), was developed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). MAC has been extensively used during thermal vacuum chamber testing of various spaceflight hardware and components, such as for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The coating is also planned to fly aboard upcoming NASA missions to address on-orbit outgassing concerns within instrument and laser cavities. Recently, the MAC technology was evaluated as a possible solution for protecting the Smithsonian Institution’s natural science specimens, specifically its mineral ore and botany collections at the MSC storage facility. The initial year-long study between NASA GSFC and NMNH involved investigating the effectiveness of the MAC technology in capturing molecular contaminants that are present within the collections and storage cabinets at ambient, non-vacuum conditions. The work included sample fabrication, installation and retrieval efforts, testing efforts and associated challenges, preliminary findings, and future plans for the multi-year project.

avatar for Nithin S. Abraham

Nithin S. Abraham

Coatings Engineer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Nithin Abraham is a coatings engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in the Contamination and Coatings Engineering Branch. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Chemical Engineering from Manhattan College. Ms. Abraham has over eight years... Read More →

avatar for Catharine Hawks

Catharine Hawks

Collections Program Conservator, Smithsonian Institution/National Museum of Natural History
Catharine Hawks is an objects conservator with a focus on natural history collections. Before becoming the museum conservator for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), she was in private practice for 20 years, working with over 100 institutional clients in... Read More →

Doris E. Jallice

Senior Materials Engineer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Doris Jallice is a senior materials engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Materials Engineering Branch. She is a subject matter expert in organic analyses, specializing in chemical analysis techniques such as Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), Infrared Spectroscopy... Read More →
avatar for Jennifer Domanowski

Jennifer Domanowski

Materials Engineer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Jennifer Domanowski is an aerospace materials engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Materials Engineering Branch, where she provides analytical and testing support primarily in the area of chemical analysis. Ms. Domanowski specializes in Thermal Desorption-Gas Chromatography/Mass... Read More →
avatar for Leslie Hale

Leslie Hale

National Rock and Ore Collection Manager, Smithsonian Institution/National Museum of Natural History
Leslie Hale is the National Rock and Ore Collections Manager at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Geology at the University of Maryland in 1989 and began her job as a museum technician the same year. Now... Read More →

Friday May 17, 2019 10:00am - 10:30am EDT
Salon A2-A3, Uncas Ballroom Sky Convention Center, Mohegan Sun
  Specialty Session, Collection Care
  • Track Collection Care
  • Ticketed Included in Main Registration
  • Authors in Publication Order Nithin S. Abraham, Jennifer I. Domanowski, Doris E. Jallice, Catherine Hawks, Leslie Hale
  • Abstract ID 19020
  • Tags coating,botany,mineral science,mercury,outgassing,off-gassing,contamination,molecular adsorber coatings,zeolite,molecular contamination,NASA,Natural History