I've seen several articles talking about the ways in which Vantablack and similar substances could be used in space as a replacement for black paint.

For example, they could be used on the optical blinders of space telescopes, to reduce unwanted glare. And Vantablack S-Vis has been used in the optical positioning system of the Kent Ridge 1 satellite.

That said, most of these talk about hypothetical ways in which they might be used in the future. And I can't find any follow-up article discussing the success or otherwise of Vantablack in the Kent Ridge mission.

How much are these carbon nanotube coatings actually used for space applications? How successful have they proven to be "in the field" so far?

(I'm also interested in substances based on etched nickel-phosphorus alloy, such as the earlier "super black", but I don't know if these are different enough to justify a separate question.)


It's not Vantablack but the recently launched Solar Orbiter from ESA is coated almost entirely with a black material. Since it will be getting so close to the sun the obvious color choice would be white to reflect as much as possible. The problem, though, is that the spacecraft will darken over time. This causes the amount of solar radiation reflected to drop while more is absorbed. So, ESA decided to just colour it (mostly) black; it will absorb more but at least be consistent overtime. This coating also will prevent the buildup of static electricity.

The material they're using is called Solar Black, there's also a Solar White which has been applied to some of the heat dissipating elements of the probe. It's made from calcium phosphate which is basically blasted into the surface so that it replaces the oxide layer.

This ESA site has some more details and pictures. Personally I think the black and white look is really cool

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting... Reading the linked article, it looks like SolarBlack isn't a form of paint. Could you edit your answer to make that clear, by removing words like "painted"? I'm very interested in how Vantablack and other coatings like Solar Black fare compared to paint, so the fact that Solar Black is a completely different form of coating makes it interesting to me. $\endgroup$ – Astrid_Redfern Feb 18 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ This is more than interesting - this is fascinating! We've got a material that's designed to survive temperatures hotter than the surfaces of Venus and Mercury, designed to survive years of exposure to the Sun, not build up a static charge, and not shed any material. It'll be a couple of years before Solar Orbiter reaches its orbit but I am really excited to see how well this performs! Thanks Shabuki for some very interesting article links. (I'll wait to see what other answerers may say before awarding a green tick though.) $\endgroup$ – Astrid_Redfern Feb 18 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Astrid_Redfern you're welcome! I'm always very impressed with the solutions people can come up with an implement and how seemingly small things can make a huge difference $\endgroup$ – shabuki Feb 19 at 15:49

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