Sometimes even a spacecraft needs to be cozy. Scientists and engineers at the Blanket Shop design thermal blankets to insulate instruments on spacecraft, protecting them from temperature fluctuations.
Blankets are made of 15 layers of the plastic Mylar that are separated with another 15 polyester sheets. Each blanket’s outer layer varies depending on the spacecraft’s destination.
The Juno spacecraft, launched Aug. 5, 2011, has blankets coated with germanium, a metalized material that conducts electricity; and Kapton, a high-temperature plastic film, to ensure that the surface of the blankets reflects sunlight and remains grounded while the probe gathers data from the highly charged environment around Jupiter.
The CloudSat mission, which studies Earth’s clouds, has blankets with a top layer of Teflon to reflect the sun’s heat.