Lighter than air, but can escort the rover? How good are Chinese aerogel materials?


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Lighter than air, but can escort the rover? How good are Chinese aerogel materials?

  • Categories:NEWS
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  • Time of issue:2021-09-06 15:33

Lighter than air, but can escort the rover? How good are Chinese aerogel materials?

Now China has become the second country in the world to successfully land on Mars after the United States. Tianwen-1 not only successfully landed on the surface of Mars, but also released the Zhurong rover. In this process, a key material It is an aerogel material independently developed by China. It is lighter than air, but it can escort the rover. Because the density is lower than air, this material can be crushed by hand. So why is it? Can escort the rover? How good is this material?


Aerogel is a solid substance and the smallest solid in the world. It weighs only 3 kilograms per cubic meter. The common aerogel is silica aerogel. Of course, there are carbon, sulfur, and metal oxides. There are many different types of products, such as material series and metal series. Because the quality of aerogel is slightly lower than that of air, it is also called frozen smoke or blue smoke. At the same time, the particles inside it are very small, only nanometers. Therefore, the scattering effect of visible light is very weak, just as sunlight passes directly through the air.


So what role can this material play on the rover? Although aerogel may seem fragile, it is actually very strong and durable. It can withstand thousands of times the pressure of its own mass, and will only melt when the temperature exceeds 1200 degrees Celsius. It has good insulation and heat insulation. Its insulating ability is even 39 times stronger than the best glass fiber. These physical properties have also led to aerogel becoming an indispensable key material in space launches. For example, the US space probe and the Russian Mir space station both use aerosol. Glue is used as a thermal insulation material, so it is not surprising that it appears on the Chinese rover.
In addition to protecting the rover, a U.S. company even plans to use aerogel to develop Mars spacesuits. At present, only three countries in the world have the capability of manned spaceflight, but the spacesuits of these countries are all comparable. It’s bloated and it’s not convenient to move in space. If you want to work on Mars, it’s not appropriate to wear a heavy spacesuit. So NASA has planned to let astronauts who will go to Mars in the future wear aerogels directly. The spacesuit only needs to add an 18mm thick aerogel layer to the spacesuit to allow the spacesuit to withstand the high temperature of 1300 degrees Celsius and the ultra-low temperature of minus 130 degrees Celsius. It is definitely an ideal material for manufacturing spacesuits.


Of course, the role of aerogel is far more than a few. As a new type of material, scientists also consider allowing aerogel to play a positive role in environmental protection, such as dealing with atmospheric and marine pollution. Due to the large number of small holes on the surface of aerogel, It has a good adsorption effect, so in the face of marine pollution, the adsorption device made of aerogel can be used to deal with the pollution problem, thereby protecting the marine ecological environment. There have been many serious crude oil leakage incidents on the earth, almost every A crude oil leak will cause serious ecological disasters, but if there is aerogel, these disasters can be minimized.
At present, human research on aerogels is far from over. In addition to trying to develop lighter aerogel materials, they are also thinking about how to manufacture aerogels on a large scale. Previously, the main method of preparing aerogels was to remove condensation. The solvent in the glue, and then the complete skeleton is retained. This process is obviously not suitable for mass preparation. So now scientists are trying to use a template-free freeze-drying method to freeze-dry the aqueous solution containing graphene and carbon nanotubes at low temperatures. , So as to facilitate the production of carbon sponge, and this technology can also adjust the shape at will, so that the production process becomes faster, and also makes mass production possible.