New Satellite Shield Uses Pigment Found in Prehistoric Cave Paintings

By Geoff Manaugh on at

The European Space Agency's new solar satellite will be partially shielded for heat protection using a bone-based pigment found in prehistoric cave paintings. The result will be a surreal cross between the earliest era of human cognition and creativity and the outer reaches of our current mechanical sciences.

"A pigment once daubed onto prehistoric cave paintings is set to protect ESA's Solar Orbiter mission from the Sun's close-up glare," the ESA specifically reports. "Burnt bone charcoal will be applied to the spacecraft's titanium heatshield using a novel technique."

This "novel technique" actually comes from an Irish medical company that figured out a way to coat titanium medical implants in a grit-blasting process that sounds not unlike powder-coating.

New Satellite Shield Uses Pigment Found In Prehistoric Cave Paintings

Image: Wikimedia/ESA

The astounding suggestion here, that Lascaux-inspired structures will be blasted away from Earth is not only rife with metaphoric potential but also a fascinating next step for material sciences. [ESA]

Lead image: ESA/AOES