Attic pottery features red and black figures (see image, right) and was a fixture in ancient Greece from the sixth to fourth centuries B.C. The precision required to produce the impressive detail seen in such pieces is very high, and our understanding of the methods and techniques used by various artists - and how those evolved over time - is incomplete.
Attic pottery was created by artisans working with their hands with clay and pigment. Space mission ceramic tiles, in contrast, are made with high-tech laser beams controlled by a computerized machine tooling system.
However, "Something doesn't need to be complex to be sophisticated. If we can understand the technology with which these works of art were made, we can use the knowledge for a surprisingly wide variety of applications," Karen Trentalman, a Getty conservation scientist who is leading the collaboration, explained.
The tiles used in space missions must be able to withstand a wide range of extreme temperatures, from as low as -250 degrees F (the chill of deep space) to as high as 3000 degrees F (during re-entry).