Ultrablack Coating Could Be Ideal for Telescopes

The team’s ultrablack coating can be applied to curved surfaces and magnesium alloys to trap nearly all light.

If you, like me, have dabbled with telescope making you will know what a fickle friend light can be. On one hand you want to capture as much as you can (but only from the object, not from nearby lights) and want to reflect or refract it to the point of observation or study.  What you most certainly don’t want is stray light to be bounced around inside the telescope so components (except the mirror!) are sprayed as black as possible. Unfortunately black paints tend to be quite susceptible to damage and struggle to cope with the harsh conditions and cold temperatures telescopes are subjected to. A team has recently developed a new atomic-layer deposition method which absorbs 99.3% of light and is durable too. 

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The Best way to Leave the Solar System Might be to fly Uncomfortably Close to the Sun

We’ve reported before on the conceptual mission known as the Interstellar Probe.  This ambitious mission would visit the interstellar medium about 1,000 AU away from the Sun. But how exactly would the probe get there in a reasonable time frame? It has taken Voyager 35 years to travel less than 10% of that distance.  The answer might lie in an old technology that has been given new life by advances in material science – the solar thermal propulsion system.

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