Metal plating is everywhere around us—in our cellphones, cameras, and computers. It coats our jewelry and helps our automobiles function. But Earth is not the only arena for metal plating. It’s also a mainstay in the space industry. Metal plating can be found in and on everything from satellites to spacecraft.
(Pixabay / SpaceX-Imagery)
When something is sent into space, it becomes exposed to extremes. Metal plating can form a protective barrier to shield components from many of these extreme environmental factors.
Here’s a look at how metal plating protects satellites, allowing them to perform their designated function while in space.
- Heat distribution. Insulation helps to protect the inner workings of satellites, but insulation is not always a viable option for external components. Metal plating can help shield the satellite from the extreme heat that could otherwise compromise its function. The plating can do two main things: reflect heat from the outside while distributing heat from the inside of the satellite.
- Light absorption and reflection. Gold plating is particularly good at reflecting light. It is also capable of absorbing light. Both of these properties minimize the blinding light that astronauts can be exposed to.
- Radiation reflection. Without the buffering effect of the atmosphere, satellite’s inner electronics become vulnerable to radiation. Gold, silver, and copper plating help shield sensitive components from UV and infrared radiation.
Gold plating for space equipment
While many types of metal coating are used for space objects, gold is the most notable. In fact, NASA personnel often joke about the ubiquitous nature of gold in their industry. There are cheaper alternatives, but when lives are at stake, it’s worth splurging on gold due to its capabilities for ensuring efficiency and safety.
Gold is a go-to in the space industry due to its malleability, corrosion-resistance, and ability to absorb and reflect light and heat.
Silver used to be used for external tiles on spacecraft, but it was susceptible to oxidation. Today, it covers internal components. Aluminum is used for insulation in satellites. Copper plating is essential for printed circuit board technology that fuels the electronic equipment used in satellites.
Though few people associate metal plating with space discovery, it’s safe to say that the industry could not survive without it. For more information about metal plating supplies and kits, visit GoldPlating.com.