Composite materials, used on many instruments, are a potential contamination source for sensitive sensors, especially for sensors or detectors cooled below -80 C. It is a well known fact that composite materials absorb water during fabrication, integration, test, and launch activities and desorb this water under vacuum conditions. Water absorption can be divided into two types: shallow water and deep water. Shallow water is generally about 500 A thick on a clean material surface and is easily desorbed under vacuum conditions. Deep water is a function of the material and is absorbed into the bulk of the material. Deep water can outgas for weeks, months, or years, depending on the vent path, the amount of absorbed water, and the temperature of the material. Several operational strategies have been successfully employed on the Wide Field Planetary Camera. The operational strategies include ultradry gaseous nitrogen purge, dew point of less than -80 C, and vacuum bake-out with verification of outgassing rates. The nitrogen purge is instituted during the fabrication phase and is continued through launch activities. Great care is taken to avoid extended periods of time that the material is exposed to the ambient environment (50 percent relative humidity). On-orbit operational strategies include heat-up and cool-down scenarios which allow the deep water to be sufficiently outgassed before cooling the sensors or detectors.
NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center, The Seventeenth Space Simulation Conference. Terrestrial Test for Space Success; p 251