Gold Could Help Us Find Space Aliens
Could gold help us find space aliens?
It just might!
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch into space in 2021. NASA claims the $10 billion telescope will allow scientists to “look back in time to see the very first galaxies that formed in the early Universe.” And thanks to its golden mirror and incredibly sensitive camera system, it may allow us to detect alien life out in space.
According to a BBC report, the mirror will enable scientists to detect whether lifeforms are altering the atmosphere of other planets.
The power of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will dwarf that of the Hubble Telescope, offering unprecedented resolution and sensitivity. The telescope’s ability to “see” deep into the infrared spectrum will allow it to image the distant universe to as far back as the first galaxies and even the first stars. Gold will help make this amazing imaging possible.
The JWST features 18 gold-coated, hexagonal mirrors. Each mirror spans a diameter of just over 4 feet. According to Forbes, “When stitched together in a honeycomb pattern, they form an effective surface that will be 6.5 meters (21.5 feet) in diameter, with seven times the light-gathering power of the Hubble Space Telescope.”
Astronomers at the University of Washington proposed the possibility of “life-detection” observations using the telescope. Joshua Krissansen-Totton and his team told the BBC they have looked into whether the telescope could detect signs of what they call “biosignatures” in the atmospheres of planets that are orbiting a nearby star.
The reasoning is that if all life on Earth disappeared tomorrow, the many gases which make up our atmosphere would undergo natural chemical reactions, and the atmosphere would slowly revert to a different chemical mixture. It is continually held away from this state by organisms on our planet expelling waste gases as they live. Because of this, searching for signs of oxygen (or its chemical cousin ozone) has long been thought to be a good way of finding life.”
Monitoring changes in light as a planet passes between the earth and another star can enable scientists to analyze the chemical makeup of the planet’s atmosphere.
So, why gold-coated mirrors?
Gold’s properties make it perfect for reflecting and focusing infrared light. It won’t take much gold to coat the telescope’s mirrors. Engineers will form them primarily out of beryllium because the metal exhibits almost no thermal expansion at cryogenic temperatures. In other words, the extreme temperatures in space won’t cause the panels to warp. On the other hand, gold is comparatively temperature sensitive. Once engineers form the panels, they will coat them in a micro-thin layer of gold.
This is just one of many new applications for gold in the technology sector. The demand for gold in tech applications grew for the seventh consecutive quarter in Q2 2018. Over the past decade, the tech sector accounted for more than 380 tons of gold demand annually. That’s 13% ahead of central bank purchases during the same time period.
As we reported last week, engineers have developed a process using gold to pinpoint flaws in 3D printed objects. Demand for gold in the healthcare field is also growing quickly. And earlier this summer, researchers developed a gold nanoparticle that could open the door to improving the storage of solar energy.
We generally think of gold as an investment as well as money, but it is increasingly being used in technology and industry. Tech demand for both gold and silver will likely continue to increase over the next several decades. This could have a positive impact on overall demand for these precious metals. Silver demand has always been heavily influenced by industrial use, but gold is becoming more and more important in industry, especially in high tech applications. It’s important to consider these supply and demand fundamentals as you analyze the broader precious metals markets.
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