NASA‘s Langley Research Center is working on the next frontier in terms of building materials used for spacecrafts — the latest to them being a self-healing material (via TC) with incredible self-healing capabilities, suited decently enough for tougher space missions.
Space has a lot of debris, which makes it difficult for spacecrafts on longer journeys to go through without damaging their shell. And while all sorts of protections, like ones from solar flames and other debris are deployed, spacecrafts still suffer substantial damage.
Working towards a possible solution to this problem, a student on fellowship at NASA from the University of Michigan combined research with over half-a-decade of research data on self-healing material for aircrafts and space vehicles, to come up with first viable prototype of a self-healing material.
Explaining the working behind this new material, NASA scientists say, that it works pretty much how puncture healing works on human body — albiet this one, is much more faster. The polymers involved in this material respond to energetic events such as space debris – or bullets – rapidly hitting the material.
As soon as the polymer atoms get an indication of a surprise event, the chemical composition swiftly reacts to the inflicted area and rushes to heal it, potentially within less than a second.
During testing for such materials, a bullet is hot at the surface of it. The small molecules of the polymer substance the material is made of, flow around the bullet when it hits the matter, the structural integrity of the material however, remain intact.
As the bullet goes in it actually raises the temperature around the region,
NASA scientists Mia Siochi explained in a video about the project.