The most obvious ideas are not always clear. Take aerogel for instance, a transparent, smoky blue substance that’s been especially manufactured to bring home a piece of a comet, among other things. This exotic substance, commonly referred to as “frozen smoke” for its hazy appearance, has many unusual properties and can withstand extreme temperatures. Its versatility was obscured until it got into the hands of some NASA researchers. They saw through the haze and realized the possibilities. The result was the development of a novel use of aerogel for space exploration.