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Gold’s conductivity, corrosion resistance, and reflectivity have traditionally made it an important material in mankind's space exploration.
Gold in Space Exploration Applications
Gold can efficiently reflect infra-red radiation and heat, and this led to its use in many of NASA’s endeavors. Hence, reflective gold-coated plastic film is applied around the parts of the equipment exposed to a steady stream of strong static-generating solar heat and radiation.
Likewise, a layer of gold used on the helmets of astronauts allows them to work safely in space environments and protects them from the harmful effects of this radiation. An on-board gold-coated parabolic telescope-mirror in the Mars Global Surveyor helped in producing a comprehensive map of the whole Martian surface over a period of two years.
Applications of Gold in the Hubble Telescope
Gold coatings protected the $1.5 billion Hubble telescope, offering electrical connections and corrosion resistance to it. About 41 kg of gold was utilized in the construction of the US Columbia space shuttle, particularly in coated plastic films, electrical contacts, brazing alloys, and fuel cell fabrication.