Remember way back in February of last year we talked about how all the Nobel Prize used to be made of pure gold, but it wasn’t anymore because gold was “destined for greatness.” Well, not only has this proven to be true, but it has also shed light on future ambitions in space.
What are the new uses for gold that have made it so popular?
In the same blog about gold, “Nobel prizes gold“, we talked about how gold was already being used as a radiation reflector, but now it is the melting point quality of gold that is making it so popular. The amazing part is that it is not being used on external parts of space crafts but instead on microchips. Instead of using wires to connect points on a microchip, engineers have long ago moved to small rows of dots to connect points, only they use a variety of metals, typically the cheapest. Spacecraft engineers are using gold because they are creating rovers like those put on Mars over a decade ago, except these rovers will be going to Venus or Titan. Both, this planet and this Jupiter moon, have much higher temperatures because their surfaces are still forming, so there is literally lava everywhere, and in Venus’s case it is also much closer to the sun than Mars. It was the rovers on Mars that taught us not just about Mars, but about what the rovers could do and how to improve the rovers.
What have we learned about Mars from the rovers?
In several other blogs we have talked about the manned missions to Mars. Most of what we know about the surface of Mars and how our technology interacts with its environment comes from those rovers. They were able to explore sandy valleys and rocky deposits looking for signs of water, in the present or in the past, while testing their solar abilities from season to season, including a period of time where they were completely blocked from communication with Earth. Knowing the terrain, knowing how the solar technology will interact with the seasons as well as the storms on Mars, and knowing how the temperatures will affect the microchips are invaluable to the two manned missions occurring within the next 5 to 7 years. Especially the one that does not intend to return to Earth.