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The effect of the radiation component of the space environment on polyimide films is reviewed. Experimental data obtained by electron spin resonance and dynamical mechanical analysis proved that the ionizing radiation generates free radicals with a long lifetime through a dominant chain scission mechanism. The radiation-induced shift of the glass transition of polyimide towards lower values confirms the decrease of the average molecular mass of the polymer during irradiation. The importance of polyimide for space exploration is critically analyzed.
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