‘Solid smoke’ to keep Mars lander cosy
Specialised space materials hold promise for the terrestrial energy sector. Aerogel, sometimes called ‘solid smoke’, is the lightest solid known, with correspondingly low thermal conductivity. An ESA project investigated aerogel as an insulator for ESA’s future Mars Network Science Lander (Mars NEXT), to protect lander electronics against bitterly cold martian temperatures. The initial work took place through ESA’s Innovation Triangle Initiative, focused on introducing disruptive new technologies, with Active Space Technologies and the University of Coimbra’s Faculty of Science and Technology as partners. Aerogel might in future insulate terrestrial buildings and industrial units.
Last update: 13 November 2012