Mini Soccer Balls in Space

Science Animations Video • July 22nd, 2010 • ssc2010-06v1

This animation illustrates that buckyballs -- discovered in space by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope -- closely resemble old fashioned, black-and-white soccer balls, only on much smaller scales.

The structures of soccer balls and buckyballs both contain 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons (the pentagons are black on soccer balls). The pentagons are needed to make the spherical shapes -- they allow the grids of hexagons to bend at just the right points. Soccer balls have 60 intersecting points at the same places where buckyballs have 60 carbon atoms.

Video Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech