European Space Agency (ESA) duringThe development of a spacecraft for the study of the Sun faced a serious technical problem - the need to protect equipment and the surface of the aircraft from high temperatures and radiation. The mission is carried out jointly by ESA and NASA and consists in launching a spacecraft into the orbit of the Sun, gradually approaching the celestial body.
The launch of the device was carried out in February 2020,and only now has the Solar Orbiter completed its first flyby at a relatively short distance from the Sun. According to technical requirements, the surface of the Solar Orbiter must withstand the melting point of lead (327 degrees Celsius) and radiation exposure 13 times more powerful than in Earth orbit. Every six months, the Solar Orbiter orbit will pass closer and closer to the Sun, and at these peak times the device will be exposed to extreme temperature and radiation effects.
ESA's original plans were based onthe creation of protection based on metals, but later an idea came from the Irish biotechnology company ENBIO, already working on the creation of a method for applying synthetic coatings based on bone powder on orthopedic and dental implants in order to facilitate their acceptance by the patient's body. As a result, the weight of the product is reduced and the problems of overheating and delamination are overcome. The ENBIO engineers suggested that this technique would work for the titanium surface of the Solar Orbiter.
However, the developers faced anothera problem associated with the discoloration of the bone powder coating upon exposure to temperature. If the powder darkened, its ship defense properties became more stable and effective. It remained to find a method to change the color of the light coating.
Direct powder painting did not work and the authorsideas from ENBIO took advantage of Stone Age technology, when charred bone was already being used by humans to create “crayons” that were used to paint cave paintings.
Using pre-burned bonepowder allowed scientists to create the ideal coating for the Solar Orbiter, called SolarBlack and covers about 20% of the most sensitive elements of the device. At the same time, the parts of the device are protected from a temperature of 537 degrees Celsius (100 - according to Faringate), since the charred bone material effectively absorbs excess thermal energy. At the next stage, the researchers plan to create a SolarWhite coating that can reflect the heat of sunlight rather than absorbing it.