European Space Agency Specialists(ESA) conducted an experiment designed to demonstrate how near-earth satellites melt as they enter Earth's atmosphere. To simulate these conditions on the ground, engineers used a plasma wind tunnel, into which they placed one of the strongest elements of the satellite - a bar of the magnetic orientation system. It consists of a polymeric composite material, reinforced with an external carbon fiber, with copper coils and an internal cobalt core.
In theory, near-earth satellites are being developed withIn this regard, all their elements burned in the atmosphere of our planet when their useful life approaches. In reality, this is not always the case - some parts can still reach the surface of the Earth.
How do satellites melt?
Therefore, ESA experts wanted to understandthe process of melting cosmic debris while diving into the atmosphere. Similar conditions were recreated at the site of the German Aerospace Center in Cologne inside the plasma wind tunnel. The orientation of 4 by 10 centimeters placed into the magnetic bar of the orientation system was completely melted, heating the object to several thousand degrees Celsius.
"These kind of experiments represent a noticeablevalue to take these factors into account when designing spacecraft, so that there are no surprises and to minimize the harmful effects if you cannot design it so that everything burns out, ”commented the result of the experiment, leading researcher at the Institute of Space Research, Russian Academy of Sciences Nathan Eismont.
The bar of the magnetic orientation system before melting ...
According to ESA chief engineer Thiago Suarez,In general, the results of the experiment showed the correctness of the calculations. However, some parts of the bar did not melt as planned, which may be due to either improper production or incorrect mathematical calculations of the destruction of satellites in the atmosphere.
What parts of satellites may not burn in the atmosphere?
ESA experts note that some of the debris falling on the ground are large enough and can cause significant damage, so attempts are being made to minimize the probability of these events.
As an example, ESA cites the caseoccurred in 1997. Then, just 50 meters from a residential building on one of the Texas farms, a rocket fuel tank, unheated in the atmosphere, fell, weighing about 250 kg.
Unburned rocket fuel tank that fell in Texas in 1997
The ESA also notes that in addition to magnetic rodsand fuel tanks do not burn in the atmosphere of the Earth and other parts of satellites, such as the same optical instruments, gyro flywheels and drive mechanisms, can reach its surface.
You can discuss the news in our Telegram-chat.