images: Alamy, ESA, Moderna Museet, NASA, Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons
Atomic oxygen experiment at the European Space Agency ESA
To explore AO effects on typical cultural heritage materials, 39 mockups were made: plaster, limestone, acrylic paint, canvas, pastel, paper were prepared and experimented on at ESA using the space environment simulator ESTEC TEC-QEE LEOX. The simulator consists of a vessel composed of three compartments separated by an electro-pneumatic valve and an orifice in the main chamber where the samples are exposed to 99% AO under low-pressure conditions, using IR CO2 laser detonation. 39 samples, each measuring 2 x 2 cm, were prepared and soiled with typical contaminants: soot, spray paint, ballpoint pen, markers, lipstick. Currently, the samples are in progress of investigation and assessment, and serve as a pilot study selecting art materials and their testing and characterisation methodology.