The challenges and successes of passive acoustic treatments on the International Space Station

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Abstract

Habitable space environments pose unique challenges to the selection of passive acoustic treatments used to mitigate noise. On the International Space Station, strict regulations regarding flammability, particulate release, and off-gassing must be considered during material selection, resulting in the exclusion of many common acoustic treatments used in ground-based applications. The Johnson Space Center Acoustics Office has identified a small subset of acoustic absorption and barrier materials that meet these stringent requirements, and has developed numerous treatments for noise mitigation, including duct-wrapping and liners, acoustic absorption and barrier blankets, and mufflers. The Acoustics Office utilizes impedance and transmission loss tubes to optimize the layering of acoustic materials for these treatments while observing restrictive volume and mass limits. Future acoustic mitigation development will focus on moisture and microbial-resistant materials and treatments that can be utilized in enclosed spaces that require higher scrutiny in regards to cleanliness, such as waste management bays and surfaces surrounding exercise equipment or galleys.