Space blanket is also known as emergency blankets. They are light, compact and highly reflective sheets made from Mylar that is a metallic-coated polymer. These extraordinary blankets have a wide range of uses and are most known for their usage in space travel but they are also useful on Earth for a variety of other purposes.
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These blankets , which were originally designed by NASA for space missions, perform a variety of critical purposes due to their unique features. Their principal function is to regulate temperature and offer thermal insulation in harsh settings, both in space and on Earth. These blankets are made to reflect and retain heat making them extremely effective at keeping people warm.
This article will further discuss about what is space blanket, origin of this blanket, science behind this blanket, and benefits of these blankets along with its different types, care and maintenance.
What is Space Blanket?
A space blanket is also known as an emergency blanket or Mylar blanket. It is a thin and lightweight sheet composed of Mylar that is a metallic-coated material. These blankets are very reflective and have good thermal qualities making them useful for temperature regulation under harsh environments. NASA originally created these blankets for space missions that are meant to reflect and retain heat making them useful for keeping people warm. In an emergency, these blankets are widely used to avoid hypothermia by trapping body heat when wrapped around a person.
They are a must-have in outdoor first aid and survival packs because they may help keep core body temperature stable in cold or hazardous weather situations. These blankets are useful for more than just thermal insulation; these blankets are highly reflective and can reflect sunlight and radiate excessive heat, making them useful for protecting against overheating in hot climates. They find applications in emergency shelters, tents and as sunshades during various outdoor activities.
Origin of Space Blanket:
The space blanket has its roots in the early days of space exploration and the development of technologies for NASA’s space missions. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) created this blanket as part of its efforts to solve the issues of controlling temperature and safeguarding people in the harsh environment of space.
NASA confronted the difficulty of protecting astronauts from the significant variations in temperature they would see in orbit during the Mercury and Apollo missions in the 1960s. Spacecraft would be subjected to the harsh cold of deep space as well as the high heat produced upon reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. To solve this issue, NASA scientists and engineers created a highly reflecting and insulating substance comprised of of a metallic-coated plastic called Mylar.
Science behind Space Blanket:
These blankets are made of Mylar that is a polyester sheet with a metallic covering usually aluminum. Reflectivity is the basic scientific concept at work. Mylar is extremely reflective especially when coated with aluminum. Due to their high reflectivity, these blankets can reflect a considerable part of radiant heat including infrared radiation. When a person’s body generates heat, this blanket works as a barrier reflecting a significant portion of that heat back toward the body. This phenomenon helps in the conservation of body heat and the maintenance of a comfortable body temperature.
Benefits of Space Blanket:
They offer several advantages due to their unique properties that include:
These blankets are highly effective at retaining body heat. When wrapped around a person, they create a barrier that reflects and traps radiant heat helping to prevent hypothermia and maintain core body temperature in cold conditions. This is particularly valuable in emergency situations such as when someone is injured or stranded in a cold environment.
Lightweight and Compact:
They are incredibly lightweight and compact making them easy to carry in backpacks, first aid kits or emergency supplies. Their small size and minimal weight make them a practical addition to outdoor gear without adding significant bulk.
The metallic-coated Mylar material used in space blankets is highly reflective. This property allows the blankets to reflect sunlight preventing excessive heat absorption in hot environments. This makes them useful for providing shade and reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses in extreme heat.
These blankets have a wide range of applications. They can be used as ground cover to insulate against cold or damp surfaces as improvised shelters or as sunshades. Their versatility makes them valuable for hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The reflective surface of blankets can be used for signaling in emergency situations. The bright and reflective material can attract attention and increase visibility which is especially important for search and rescue operations.
Types of Space Blanket:
There are several types of space blankets available each designed for specific purposes and varying environmental conditions and some common types of these blankets include:
Standard Space Blanket:
This is the most basic and commonly used type of space blanket. It is typically made of a thin, lightweight and highly reflective material that provides insulation and reflects heat. Standard blankets are versatile and can be used in various outdoor activities and emergency situations.
Reusable Space Blanket:
They are made of more durable materials allowing them to withstand multiple uses without tearing or losing their insulating properties. These blankets are designed for extended outdoor activities or situations where a more robust and long-lasting option is needed.
Emergency Shelter Space Blanket:
This type of blanket is designed to use as an improvised shelter. It is typically larger than standard space blankets and comes with additional features such as grommets or tie-down points allowing it to be easily converted into a shelter or tarp. Emergency shelter space blankets are useful for creating protection from the elements in emergency situations or during extended outdoor stays.
Tarp Space Blanket:
They are larger and more durable versions of standard space blankets. They are often equipped with reinforced edges and grommets allowing them to function as makeshift tarps for creating shelters protecting gear or providing additional insulation. Tarp space blankets are suitable for more demanding outdoor activities and situations where a larger coverage area is required.
Thermal Sleeping Bag Space Blanket:
This blanket is designed in the form of a sleeping bag providing full-body coverage and insulation. Thermal sleeping bag space blankets are often used in emergency kits and for outdoor activities where extended exposure to cold temperatures is expected. They offer enhanced protection and insulation compared to standard space blankets.
Also Read: Mylar blanket
Care and Maintenance:
To maintain the lifespan and durability of these blankets, proper care and maintenance is essential. While these blankets are typically resilient, they must be handled and stored with care to avoid tears and punctures. Regular examination for signs of deterioration as well as gentle washing with mild soap and water will help extend the blanket’s lifespan and preserve its thermal features.
In conclusion, space blankets are an important tool for survival and disaster preparedness because they protect people from extreme environmental conditions. Due to their lightweight and adaptable design as well as their efficient thermal insulation characteristics they are invaluable tool for outdoor enthusiasts, tourists and emergency res-ponders alike.
How do space blankets work?
They works by reflecting thermal radiation preventing heat loss and maintaining warmth.
Can space blankets be reused?
Yes, they can be reused provided they are not damaged. Ensure they are clean and in good condition for subsequent use.
Are there different sizes of space blankets available?
Yes, these blankets come in various sizes from small personal-sized ones to larger ones suitable for multiple people.