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What is the gold and silver foil they put on satellites and why is it important?

Matthew Brown Matthew Brown Sep 01, 2017 · 2 mins read
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The shiny golden and silver foil that we see on satellite surfaces may seem like a mere aesthetic addition; however, it is more than that. These foils are made of ultra-thin layers of aluminum and silicon dioxide and are crucial to the functioning of the satellite.

Satellites orbit around the Earth at an altitude of around 36,000 kilometers. At such a distance, they are exposed to high temperatures caused by the sun’s radiation. The foil helps protect the satellite by reflecting heat, and it also helps releases heat that has already been absorbed. The reflective property of the foil helps to maintain a constant temperature inside the satellite, preventing overheating of the electrical components inside.

The foil has several advantages over other materials used for the same purpose. One of the major reasons being its weight. These foils are incredibly light and offer the required thermal protection while not adding extra weight to the satellite. In the world of space technology, the weight of an object plays a critical role in determining the cost of the mission. The lighter the object, the easier and cheaper it is to launch, which explains why the foil is a preferred material by space engineers.

The foil also acts as a shield against space debris or micrometeoroids. These objects travel at considerable speeds and can cause significant damage to the satellite upon impact. The reflective surface of the foil causes the objects to bounce away, preventing any damage from occurring. This feature is vital in sustaining the life of the satellite, as even the slightest damage can hinder its operations.

The gold or silver color of the foil is solely for decorative purposes. While gold is primarily used for scientific purposes, silver has become a popular choice for its high reflectivity property. The silver coating reflects up to 98% of light, making it the most reflective material available.

In conclusion, the use of gold and silver foils is not a mere matter of aesthetics; it is an essential component for the functioning of the satellite. The foils protect the satellite from the hazardous environment of space by acting as a thermal shield and a shield against micrometeoroids. They are lightweight, which allows the object to be launched easily, and their reflective property helps the satellite maintain a constant temperature. These foils have revolutionized space technology and have become an integral part of satellite design.

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Matthew Brown
Written by Matthew Brown
Living life to the fullest, one adventure at a time.