How is Gold Used in NASA Telescopes: Oscars Statuettes and NASA Now Use Same Gold Coating (Download PDF)

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NASA telescopes and Oscars trophies have gold coating is made by the same company- Epner Technology uses gold electroplating for NASA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Image of Gold Used in NASA Telescopes

Image of Gold Used in NASA Telescopes

Image of Gold Used in NASA Telescopes

  • The Oscars statuette uses the same electroplated gold present in NASA telescopes.

  • Brooklyn-based Epner Technology that is working on NASA’s telescopes since the 1970s is now in charge of electroplating the Oscar statuette, promises that the gold won’t come off. The company uses laser gold plating technique.

Why is Gold Used in Telescopes?

  • The 32-foot cooling tube of the James Webb Space Telescope is plated with gold.

  • Gold does not oxidize and tarnish. It also blocks the absorption of radiant heat, making it the best choice to maintain the reflectivity of NASA telescopes.

  • “Gold is useful in space, because it is good at reflecting infrared wavelengths of light, which help to detect celestial objects from very far away. Even better, ” says Goddard Space Flight Center physicist Jim Tuttle.

Technology Used for Gold Plating

  • Laser gold plating technique is sturdier than the more common method of gold coating using the physical vapor deposition (PVD).

  • The PVD method produces a thin film of coating by transforming a material from condensed phase to vapor phase. This process is commonly used to produce industrial coatings.

  • The disadvantages of this method is that the gold loses some of its reflectivity and becomes extremely delicate

  • Epner’s propriety laser gold-plating method produces pure, hard, electrochemically deposited gold plating that combines the theoretical reflectivity and emissivity of gold with a surface that can be cleaned.

  • Epner has refined its laser gold-plating technology for years, and it is used in most advanced military and space programs.

  • NASA’s Keck Observatory telescopes and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter also have gold-plated mirrors. Laser gold plating has 99 percent reflectivity.

Oscars Gold

  • Each of the 13.5-inch and 8.5-pound Oscars statuettes are made from solid bronze and plated in 24-karat gold.

  • For the past 30 years, the previous manufacturer of Oscar trophy casts the statuette in tin alloy and plated them with a gold coating that wears off.

  • Epner Technology started making the gold plating for the Oscars trophies since 2016.

Properties of Laser Gold Plating

  • Many of the products that require both the highest IR reflectance, and ruggedness to permit physical cleaning, specify Laser Gold on the drawing

  • Laser Gold is a space-proven, field-tested process for more than twenty years.

  • Countless programs have called out Laser Gold it for it’s high IR reflectivity, low emissivity, and superior thermal control properties.

  • Electrochemically deposited gold. Total reflectivity shall be equal to or greater than 97 % at 0.7 microns

OSCAR Awards

  • The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of 24 awards for artistic and technical merit in the American film industry, given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

  • The awards are given to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership.

  • The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the “Academy Award of Merit”, which has become commonly known by its nickname “Oscar”. The sculpture was created by George Stanley.

  • The awards, first presented in 1929

NASA

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

  • Most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle.

  • Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles.

- Published/Last Modified on: July 24, 2018

Science/Technology, Awards

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