NASA and the Oscars Share a Golden Space Tech Link
Mar 04th, 2018 12:32 UTC ‘Space.com
NASA and the Oscars Share a Golden Space Tech Link
The gold-plated Oscar trophies featured in ceremonies this Sunday (March 4) have a special space connection, according to NASA.
The same process that coats the trophies will also help the agency's $8.9 billion James Webb Space Telescope look at faraway galaxies, NASA officials said.
Gold is a useful substance in space because it doesn't tarnish. It reflects light in infrared wavelengths, making it easier for James Webb to spot distant objects. Gold also blocks absorption of radiant heat from telescope instruments. For example, James Webb, which is scheduled to launch next year, employs gold to coat the 32-foot (10 meters) refrigerant tube that cools its Mid-Infrared Instrument. [Photo Tour: Building NASA's James Webb Space Telescope]
Typically, instruments in space are gold-coated using a vapor-depositing method, NASA officials said. In a vacuum environment, the metal is heated up until it turns into a gas. The gas subsequently condenses on the desired surface in a fine layer. However, this process makes gold fragile and causes it to lose some reflectivity.
"We’ve seen many times over the years that somebody will put a nice gold coating on something, but as soon as you bend it, all of a sudden a whole layer of gold will peel up and flake off," John Gygax, an engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement.
Watching: Oscars Share, NASA A, Epner Technology
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