A recent statement in an answer got me wondering. I looked and could not find an answer on space.se

Polymers (think plastic cladding on wires) has "plasticizers", which make it elastic instead of brittle. Those are going to evaporate. Nothing made of plastic is going to be able to take tiny shocks after 100 years. Source

Do plasticizers evaporate in space?


1 Answer 1


Some (and probably most) of them do. Modern plastics use different plasticizers, but all of them have the same characteristic - they are not bound in the polymer matrix, and thus evaporate even in atmosphere: if you ever owned an object made out of plastic for a long period of time (think about ten years) you might've noticed that its plastic parts slightly changed color and became a bit brittle - exactly because of this reason. It is more obvious in older plastics, but modern materials are susceptible to this process, too. And in the vacuum of space the process of plasticizers migrating from polymers will be much faster due to the pressure differential.


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