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https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2016/Q3/thermal-metamaterial-innovation-could-help-bring-waste-heat-harvesting-technology-to-power-plants,-factories.html

http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms11809

With a hundred years of development, could this technology realistically be extrapolated into thermal suppression units efficient enough to give the illusion of stealth in space (i.e. minimal hull black body radiation above the cosmic background)? Or is it still physically impossible to avoid detection in the great black?

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    $\begingroup$ 2nd law of thermodynamics. Its still not practical to be stealthy in space. If you bring lots of something cold to keep the hull cool then you will be invisible till all your ice melts. (actually ice would be much too hot) If you fire your engines then you are Very visible. $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2016 at 0:09

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You can extrapolate to anything you please in a hundred years, but this technology is completely unrelated to anything which could be used to give the illusion of stealth in space.

This technology permits you to shape your emission spectra, making some regions less powerful while increasing other regions. However, the total amount of energy emitted remains rooted the laws of thermodynamics.

In actuality, this technology would do the exact opposite of stealth. This would permit you to alter your spectra to be very different from black-body, making yourself even more interesting to sensors.

The only way you could use this for stealth would be if you knew the wavelengths your opponent was looking at, and you notched those out. However, in doing so you must make yourself "brighter" in another spectra. All they need to do is have a sensor looking in that range and you find out that you were actually easier to spot.

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    $\begingroup$ All you 'no stealth in space' people are silly. If it is so hard to hide objects than how come we are still discovering moons and asteroids right left and sideways. The answer is obvious. If you can use this technology to make your emission spectra look like a 200 K asteroid or 150K moonlet, you can be as big as an asteroid or moonlet and still avoid detection. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Nov 30, 2016 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion The "no stealth in space" is accurate. There is no stealth in space. However "space is big." Really big. Typically when people talk of stealth in space, they're considering the question of "can I be seen," but to your point, the real question should be "will the enemy bother seeing me." Note that we literally see exo-planets from light years away, but that's because we had a good idea of where to look for them. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 30, 2016 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ We see exo-planets because we take time lapse exposures of radiation level changes over days and weeks. I don't think spacecraft trying to hide will be so kind as to strictly follow Kepler's Laws. The same is true of solar system detection. If we scan the solar system as fast as an air search radar scans the skies, we would never see any spacecraft. If it takes hours to find you with a powerful narrow bandwidth telescope, then you are hiding better than a B-2 is in today's skies. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Nov 30, 2016 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion That is exactly my point. The reason we can see exo-planets is because we can narrow down their potential location in the vastness of space to warrant spending the resources to look at them (even though they are infintessimal pinpricks compared to a nearby space vehicle). $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 30, 2016 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @kingledion If we are talking about near future realistic spaceflight with interplanetary transit times measured in years, then it doesn't really matter if full-system scan takes a second or a week. If we are talking about FTL, then in most situations you are better off (ab)using fact that literally no one can see you coming, but even then, there's no practical stealth, since the closer you are, the easier you are to detect. $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Dec 1, 2016 at 10:26

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