Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Heat of objects entering an atmosphere?

  1. Oct 8, 2005 #1
    Does a planet's atmosphere effect how hot objects get when entering its atmosphere? If we had two exact space shuttles entering two different planets, the first planet is Earth while the other is significantly smaller planet but its atmosphere is predominately made of carbon dioxide. Both are built to survive during re-entry. Which shuttle will generate more heat? Any help would be much apprecaited. Thanks

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I'm not sure, but I would think that the heat generated is proportional to the atmospheric (air) resistance experienced by the shuttle or any meteorite during its decent to the surface. If that assumption is true, then we can continue to analyze: air resistance is a function of the air's viscosity, density at various altitudes and meteorite's speed throughout the decent. The meteorite's speed is also undoubtedly governed by how viscous and dense the air is as that determines terminal velocity at various times.

    Knowing the viscosity and density distribution of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, we can probably solve for the air resistance and then delivered power to the meteorite and compare accordingly. Quite a task >_>
  4. Oct 8, 2005 #3
    Mezarashi, thanks for the reply. Just asking but what is your best guess which shuttle/meteorite would generate more heat?
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook