August 23, 2010
When we design our spacecraft, we cover the outside metal structure with thermal blankets composed of many layers of Mylar. The layers are spaced in such a way as to break up, and even vaporize, most of the high-speed particles smaller than about half a millimeter, so our key electronics and various propellant tanks are not harmed. Particles a bit larger than half a millimeter could still hit our spacecraft, but we rarely worry about particles larger than, say, a marble, as the chances are very low of ever running into one of them.
The Hubble Space Telescope imaged Ceres in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Photo by NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), and L. McFadden (Univ. of Maryland)
You are currently not logged in. This article is only available to Astronomy magazine subscribers.
Already a subscriber to Astronomy magazine?
If you are already a subscriber to Astronomy magazine you must log into your account to view this article. If you do not have an account you will
need to regsiter for one. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.
Non-subscribers, Subscribe TODAY and save!
Get instant access to subscriber content on Astronomy.com!
- Access our interactive Atlas of the Stars
- Get full access to StarDome PLUS
- Columnist articles
- Search and view our equipment review archive
- Receive full access to our Ask Astro answers
- BONUS web extras not included in the magazine
- Much more!