Resistant materials for space

Not only the distances but also the environmental conditions pose huge challenges in space. Strong temperature fluctuations and cosmic radiation cause satellites, research equipment and space suits to age rapidly. Therefore, the materials must be able to withstand quite a bit.

Mankind has been exploring space for many decades. However, we have only just opened the cosmic door slightly. One reason for this is that the universe is full of cosmic background radiation consisting of protons and alpha particles and being extremely energy intensive. In addition to the radiation, extreme temperatures of down to minus 270 degrees Celsius make research in space difficult. For comparison: the lowest temperature ever measured on Earth is minus 93 degrees Celsius. All these circumstances make space a deadly danger for us humans from which we on Earth are protected by the atmosphere. Cosmic radiation and icy temperatures strain research satellites and their equipment. The material these instruments are made of can only withstand this for a certain amount of time before it becomes brittle. Exchanging parts is of course not as easy as here on earth making the longevity of the materials used crucial.

Our contribution: fused silica and amorphous metals

Depending on the intended use, sometimes amorphous metals, sometimes fused silica is suitable. Due to their properties these materials are particularly resistant to the extreme environmental conditions in space.

Fused silica defies cosmic radiation

Fused silica

During the first  moon landing 51 years ago, the astronauts installed a laser reflector . It allows the distance between the Earth and the Moon to be precisely calculated to a few centimeters and it works to this day. Its survival trick: The reflector consists of 100 high-purity triple prisms made out of fused silica by  Heraeus Conamic . The synthetic fused silica  Suprasil® resists these extreme conditions in space. Is is chemically very pure and thus doesn’t allow cosmic radiation to attack. In addition, it can withstand the large temperature fluctuations between day and night and thus provides reliable measurements.

 Read more about fused silica in space

Amorphous metals for low temperatures

Amorphous metals

Spaceships, satellites, probes and tools in space must be made of special materials to prevent them from wearing out after a short time. Research projects in space are time-consuming. Amorphous metals are particularly durable. Unlike conventional materials, they can withstand very low temperatures without becoming brittle.  Heraeus Amloy manufactures a wide variety of products from amorphous metals – and has developed a milling head for space robots for a NASA project, for example.

 Read more about drill heads made of amorphous metal.