The shield in the movie Sunshine (2007, Danny Boyle), appears to be made of "panels", that seem to move to face the Sun. How does it work? I mean, I know it's not exact science, but surely there was some design put into it. And what is the function of the "panels"?

1 Answer 1


The gold panels are intended to reflect solar radiation away from the ship so that it doesn't overheat or melt.

In reality, the reflective surfaces alone will not protect a ship's inhabitants from solar radiation outside of the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared ranges, especially when that close to the sun--intense harmful radiation and strong tidal forces come into play at that point.

  • In the movie, you see the panels "flicker" when the shield rotates. At one point in the movie, two crew members have to manually fix 4 of these panels, which seem to have been left upright, or something. What's the point of having all these panels?
    – a06e
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:46
  • Why not use a single, big, layer of gold, instead of using all these panels?
    – a06e
    Apr 25, 2013 at 2:48
  • @becko Because they could make a "dramatic" scene out of it and had another 5-10 minutes. If the story is bad, you have to invent stuff. (I don't like the movie because of its weeks story, like in this example.)
    – Sentry
    Apr 25, 2013 at 11:53
  • @becko Presumably it is easier to manufacture. I would assume they could not put a whole shield into orbit, so it was broken into panels. I don't know why the panels would raise or lower however.
    – Chloe
    Dec 11, 2013 at 5:40

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