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SulliedGoon
I have heard of a bizarre but plausible tale
about satellites/spacecraft and old German
Warships.

The claim is certain very sensitive instruments
require pre-1945 metals as part of their manufacture
because testing during the atomic era has rendered all post-1945
metals too noisy for such purposes.

Futhermore, the source for this pre-1945 metal is
the German High Seas Fleet, scuttled after World War One.

It is said some of this salvaged "Kaiser" metal made its way onto
some of the Apollo missions and/or other spacecraft instrumentation.

Is there any truth to this or is it just
some type of freakish urban myth?
AndyG
I've read in several sources that some of this WWI metal was used in the UK's early nuclear industry to provide "zero radiation" steel insulation for sensitive radiation detectors.

Such detectors might well have been used during the testing of returned Apollo samples. I do not know if any such detectors were flown.

Andy
djellison
An interesting subject - but I would remind people to be wary of the no-politics rule.
Holder of the Two Leashes
I don't see how deep buried metal ores, isolated from groundwater, could have been affected by nuclear testing.
AndyG
Presumably it's easier/cheaper to machine ready-made low radiation steel than to process ores in a vacuum?

Meanwhile here's a modern scientific use for Roman Lead.

Andy
Holder of the Two Leashes
I'm not sure why you'd need a vacuum, either. Pure helium, nitrogen, or oxygen are all radioisotope free. So is carbon dioxide made from fossil fuel.

Lead 210 is a special case. It's widely distributed due to being a breakdown product of uranium. You're not going to get any iron from that source. Not even from fission.
SulliedGoon
Found this paragraph quoted from a debunker website.

"The shallow waters of Scapa Flow allowed relatively easy access to the wrecks, and many were soon salvaged. A legend has grown up that much of the “low-background steel” from these ships was used in iron-room-type shielding applications, and in particular that NASA used some in the Voyager spacecraft. However, that’s probably exaggerated — most of the ships were salvaged in the 1920s and ’30s. I did find a 1973 news account saying steel from the battleship Kronprinz Wilhelm was going to be used to shield a medical diagnostic system at a Scottish hospital, and that other pieces of the ship had been sent to Cape Town and Koblenz. However, NASA has said it can’t confirm steel from the German fleet was launched into space."

So, it does seem very unlikely any of this pre-1945 metal ever made it into spacecraft even though it has seen
utilization in other things. Oh well.
AndyG
QUOTE (Holder of the Two Leashes @ Jul 27 2011, 11:12 PM) *
Lead 210 is a special case. It's widely distributed due to being a breakdown product of uranium. You're not going to get any iron from that source. Not even from fission.


? You've lost me. Or, at least, misread me.

Andy
Holder of the Two Leashes
The discussion here was about iron and steel, which allegedly has radioactive forms of iron, carbon or some other element as contamination from nuclear testing. The article you presented on lead mentioned the natural presence of lead 210, which does not come from nuclear testing but rather from the presence of uranium with the lead ore that was processed. The Roman lead was initially so contaminated a couple of millennia ago, but virtualy all the 210 isotope has ended up as stable isotope 206 since.

In whichever way natural uranium and thorium break down, either the normal decay chain or the very rare spontanious fission, radioactive iron will not be an end product of those elements. Even if it was, how would the nuclear age be making any difference?

Edit: Okay, there actually is some contamination that resulted from neutron activation of bomb casing material, mainly in the form of Cobalt 60 production which can contaminate steel. Luckily, Co-60 has a short half life. The last atmospheric test was in 1980, so by about 2025 to 2035 this shouldn't be a problem anymore.
stevesliva
This post:
http://ask.metafilter.com/129236/Are-satel...n-levels#184732

Links to three abstracts that make the whole concept definitively NOT an urban legend. I can't read past the abstracts, but it most definitely sounds like using old processed metals is worthwhile when you're being very precise.
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