They will be exposed to the large temperature range of space, cosmic radiation, and, probably most importantly, atomic oxygen. Ultraviolet light from the Sun breaks up oxygen molecules in our atmosphere, creating independent oxygen atoms in the low Earth orbit environment. These atoms are highly reactive (which, to be fair, is in part why we breathe oxygen) and can corrode equipment in space. It’s not clear how wood will react to it over time, which is why the tests are being done.
The experiment is expected to run for about six months, and then the panel will be returned to Earth for study. The big question is pretty much what you’d think: How well does wood hold up to the extreme conditions of space? Does its structure change, or its mechanical strength?
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.