DEC 18, 2017 09:18 PM PST

Here's How We Engineer Spacecraft to Hold Up to Space


There are a lot of hazards in outer space, such as temperature, space debris, and radiation. Spacecraft designers keep these factors in mind when creating something that needs to last an extended period in the harsh environment.

Regarding temperature, some spacecraft utilize onboard temperature control systems. For example, the Rosetta spacecraft has louvers that can open or close depending on the temperature - they open in the warmth to dissipate heat and close in the cold to trap heat. The James Webb Space Telescope, on the other hand, will use a unique cooling system that keeps some components colder than the space around it.

Another problem is space debris, and it's almost everywhere. Space debris travels several times faster than a bullet, but much of it is too small to see. Engineers typically avoid known space debris areas whenever possible, but they can also use folding tactics that reduce surface area when space debris will be unavoidable.

Radiation can fry the sensitive computer systems inside of a spacecraft, so engineers use electronic redundancy and shielding to prevent corrupted data. With electronic redundancy, several of the same electronics process the same information simultaneously to ensure that NASA doesn't receive corrupted data. Shielding is less common, as it adds weight and increases the cost of the launch.

Because space missions aren't cheap, NASA spends a lot of their budget on research and development to ensure the longevity of their spacecraft. The reward can be priceless, especially if that spacecraft holds up to the test of time.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 21, 2019
Here's What Happens Inside a Caterpillar's Chrysalis
When a caterpillar undergoes the complex biological process of metamorphosis, it does so inside of a pointy bean-shaped enclosure that many people like to...
NOV 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 21, 2019
What do a Wing Nut and a Tennis Racket Have in Common?
In 1985 during a mission to rescue the space station Salyut-7, Soviet astronaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov observed something rather strange. A free-flowing wing...
NOV 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 21, 2019
Polar Bears Feast On Anything They Find, Even Rotting Whales
Polar bears are expert survivalists. Their noses are many times more powerful than a dog’s, and they can sniff out a potential meal from several mile...
NOV 21, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 21, 2019
Study Confirms Hurricanes are Getting Much Worse
If it seems like hurricanes have become more destructive in recent years, it’s because they have. Thanks to a new damage-framing method accounting fo...
NOV 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 21, 2019
Dolphins Utilize Physics and Shorelines to Hunt for Prey
Bottlenose dolphins are known for their intelligence, and their behavior in the natural habitat never fails to amaze even the most invested of marine anima...
NOV 21, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 21, 2019
Restoring the World's Wetlands
An effort to restore wetlands throughout the United States and the United Kingdom is currently underway. As part of the Associated Press’ “What...
Loading Comments...