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Return Flux Experiment (REFLEX)

photo of REFLEX in shuttle bay

The primary objective of the Return Flux Experiment (REFLEX) was to identify and quantify the molecular species that diffuse from a spacecraft surface and then return to that surface after interacting with the environment. This "return flux" is believed to be one of the major sources of error in predicting spacecraft contamination.

Drawing of Reflex experiment

During the flight,a mass spectrometer, built by the University of Minnesota, measured the velocity and density of ambient molecules and of the return flux from an on-board gas source of Argon and Krypton. Also, three quartz crystal microbalances located on the experiment studied materials erosion due to atomic oxygen.

Photo of Reflex experiment

The REFLEX was one of four instruments aboard the OAST Flyer, a Spartan SP200 Class carrier. "OAST" stands for NASA's Office of Aeronautical and Space Technology. "Spartan" stands for Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy. The Spartan is deployed as a free flyer from the Shuttle bay and is retrieved approximately 48 hours later.

Drawing of Reflex Experiment position on OAST Flyer

The OAST Flyer was the primary payload aboard the Endevour, STS-72 , launched in January 1996. The REFLEX flight data will be used to validate and update contamination models and thus extend the useful life of spacecraft instruments that are contamination sensitive, such as optical equipment.

Photo of Reflex Instrument on OAST flyer


The experiment was sponsored by NASA's Office of Advanced Concepts and Technology.

For more information, contact:
Principal Investigator - C. Lorentson
GSFC Code 545.4, 301-286-4904
Charles dot C dot Lorentson at nasa dot gov

Experiment Manager - Steve M. Benner
REFLEX logo




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