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Reason Why Astronaut Space Suits Are White And Orange

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Reason Why Astronaut Space Suits Are White And Orange

Have you ever watched a space mission and - instead of finding yourself marvelling over the vast mysteries of the universe - been left wondering why the astronauts' suits are white and orange?

Here on Earth, an all white or orange get-up is pretty outlandish and rare, yet in space, it seems to be all the rage.

Well, predictably, there are good reasons why astronauts don the colours.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

White may be a nightmare to get stains out of, but up in space its preferred for its reflective properties.

You see, down here on the ground, the atmosphere offers us some protection from the sun's radiation, whereas up in space, astronauts are exposed to sweltering heat and are at risk of extreme sunburn and cancer-causing cell damage.

Dr Cathleen Lewis, a curator at the National Air and Space Museum, told Insider: "White is the colour that reflects back the radiation most effectively while in outer space.

"It's the ideal colour to keep the astronauts safe. If you're planning to go out in outer space, that reflective nature is an absolute."


But why then do we often see astronauts in orange outfits?

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

This colour is adopted when they launch and land because it stands out against the ocean or the sky. As such, if something were to go wrong, search and rescue teams would have a better chance of locating the astronauts.

According to Live Science, Brian Daniel - shuttle crew escape subsystem manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston - said: "It's highly visible for search and rescue.


"It's one of the most visible colours, especially for sea rescue."

Makes sense.

That being said, advancing technology - such as GPS trackers and transponders - means the colour of astronauts' suits during launch and landing is now less important, freeing up space agencies to be a bit more experimental with their colour schemes.

Dr Lewis said: "You may want to have a variation of colours or even interchangeable cover layers for the suits just to avoid the trials of monotony. That's a very deep concern.


"People who are in a very high-stress job, who are in a very small, confined space, and it is a very monotonous space."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Interesting, space

Jake Massey
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