Gold is a critical material in space exploration Gold’s reflectivity, conductivity and corrosion resistance have played a vital role in space exploration for decades. Its efficiency as a reflector of heat and infra-red radiation has been invaluable in numerous NASA undertakings.
Reflective gold-coated plastic film protects essential equipment from intense solar radiation and heat. Similarly, a layer of gold on the astronauts’ helmets defends against lethal doses of radiation when working in space. Altogether, nearly 41Kg of gold was used in the construction of the US Columbia space shuttle - mostly in brazing alloys, for coated plastic films or in electrical contacts.
A gold-coated parabolic telescope-mirror aboard the Mars Global Surveyor helped to map the entire Martian surface over a two-year period. Gold coatings also protect the $1.5 billion Hubble telescope against corrosion and electrical connections.