F1™: a flare for materials

Hinode (Solar-B) model, 2006

Formula 1™ is always looking for new ways to improve safety. Today’s cars are built from hi-tech composite materials that offer the driver a protected space in which to sit in the event of a serious impact.

F1™ engineers have now shared their materials knowledge with space scientists. In 2006 the Hinode satellite was launched to provide vital information on how ‘solar weather’ affects the Earth. Aboard the craft was a three-metre-long telescope designed to measure the small-scale changes that occur during the critical build-up of a solar flare. To make the telescope as light as possible, UK scientists worked with F1™ engineers to build the instrument out of the same materials as those used in a racing car.

When some materials are exposed to the extreme atmospheric conditions of space, they can crack and give off dangerous chemicals that can contaminate sensitive equipment. F1™ materials were used to provide a safe housing for the on-board instruments, as they are crack resistant and rigid enough to help them survive blastoff.

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