There’s a new kind of space armor designed to protect astronauts and spacecraft, but it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. NASA’s futuristic space chain mail is actually a flexible metallic textile made using a 3D printing process at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Researchers call it “4D printing” because the material was printed with both geometry and functionality combined. It offers reflectivity, passive heat management, foldability, and tensile strength. One side of the fabric reflects light, while the other absorbs it for thermal control. Continue reading for more pictures and information.
“That functionality, by the way, is three-fold: protecting astronauts and spacecraft from debris impact (like stray meteorites), for capturing objects on the surface of other planets, or as insulation in icy climates like Jupiter’s Europa moon. And that’s just what they’ve come up with so far. The project is still in development, but Polit Casillas hopes to put it into production and use in the near future – potentially even manufacturing it outside of our atmosphere,” reports Hi Consumption.