Whale Oil as Space Lubricant: Better than Anything We Can Create?


The Big Cheese behind TreeHugger, Graham Hill, hit the Arctic as part of Cape Farewell's 2008 Disko Bay expedition to witness the direct environmental effects of climate change. In a science research boat, he traveled alongside over 40 artists, scientists and rock stars.

TreeHugger does surely not lack in its coverage of whaling. The proof is in our ocean-sized archive.

But did you know that whale oil was used to send a man to the moon? I learned this weird but true fact during my sea travels...Back in the day, NASA used whale oil as a lubricant in their space program, including the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) for expeditions to the Moon and Mars. Fast forward to the future and whale oil is still being used to lubricate spacecraft such as the Hubble space telescope and the Voyager space probe. Apparently spermaceti--or Sperm whale oil--doesn't freeze in sub-zero temperatures (quite important given space's super-chilly temps) and man hasn't yet found a suitable substitute for the natural lubricant.

It makes me wonder why NASA isn't applying the science of biomimicry to find the whale-friendly solution. After all, scientists were able to mimic the Gecko when trying to create sustainable adhesives.

Have you heard of any research behind finding an eco-alternative to whale oil? Hit up TreeHugger's biomimicry forum and let us know!

Read more about Graham's journey to the Arctic here.

Tags: Arctic | Biomimicry | Graham Hill | Whales

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK