Scientists study ancient Greek pottery to improve spacecraft tiles

Rocket scientists are studying 2,500-year-old Greek pottery because they believe its properties could help them design more effective heat tiles.

Scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute, Stanford’s National Accelerator Laboratory and the Aerospace Corporation are using X-ray absorption to gain further insight into molecular structure of Attic pottery.

Spacecraft ceramic tiles have to be able to withstand a staggering range of temperatures, from -120C in the cold vacuum of space to 1650C when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

This tremendous heat is caused by friction and is hot enough to liquefy metal.

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