In vacuum, any liquid water on moisture in the materials of a satellite and probe will start to gas out.

So are the materials on satellites and probes baked or dried by other menas before beeing sent to orbit or is this not a problem at all?

Additionlly: how would they be kept dry inside the fairing of a rocket while it is waiting on the pad in probably humid climate around the rocket?

  • $\begingroup$ The better solution is to avoid all materials that would absorb too much water. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ Fairing is air conditioned. 1 $\endgroup$
    – AJN
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ @AJN indeed. Shuttle compartments were also purged on the pad to get that sticky Florida air out. space.stackexchange.com/a/25659/6944 "The purge gas makes all the unpressurized volumes inert, maintains constant humidity and temperature, forces out any hazardous gases and ensures that external contaminants cannot enter." $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ Why would you do this? Is space-probe jerky somehow a thing? $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


Answer: no reason to dry space probes.

Many space probes are treated with dry heat. This is done for bacterial decontamination, not to dry moisture. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_protection for heat sterilization protocols. Viking Landers were treated with dry heat at 112 °C for 30 hours.

Off-gassing water in space is only a concern if the off-gassing vapor is in a sealed compartment capable of generating pressure. But if it is in a sealed container, it is protected from the vacuum. Kind of a reverse Catch 22.

Liquid water evaporates until the vapor pressure reaches equilibrium pressure characteristic for that temperature. The vapor pressure depends only on temperature.

Consider 2 bottles. One is filled with room air at 50% relative humidity (RH) , the other with water (and a bit of air). The air in the second bottle had 50% RH at the time it was filled, then water evaporated into the air space until it reaches the partial pressure of water vapor appropriate for the ambient temperature. The pressure gradient across the wall of the bottle is 0.000 bar in the first case and 0.005 bar in the second. In space, first bottle will have a pressure of 1.000 bar and the second 1.005bar (at room temperature).

So the presence of liquid water in a sealed compartment is insignificant. In vented spaces, the water vaporizes and disperses.

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    $\begingroup$ Why do they purge vehicles on the pad? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble ... I've sat in an airliner in the Florida sun with no air conditioning. I get it. $\endgroup$
    – Woody
    Commented Jan 5, 2023 at 17:42

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