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Hi! On the subject of space suit insulation: I was wondering, would a space suit insulated completely by a layer of aerogel protect the wearer against the extreme hot and cold temperature in space or on the moon? Would it be superior to the current mode of insulation used at NASA now, with the many layers of material that are used to protect the wearer? Thanks for your help!
Question Date: 2009-12-31
Answer 1:

While you definitely need insulation in space, it's not really a question of heat or cold, because there is no atmosphere to conduct heat into or away from the astronaut's body. You know about the concept of a thermos that you use to transport soup or a warm drink, which has a layer of vacuum between the warm liquid inside and the colder world outside. Heating instead comes mostly from illumination from distant heat sources (sunlight), and cooling is simply radiating infrared light into space. As a consequence, what you need to maintain your temperature is cryogen, a reservoir of cold material that can absorb the heat you pick up from incident light.

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