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Heats generated during atmospheric entry

  1. Sep 29, 2007 #1
    Consider a hypothetical planet of given radius and mass. What atmospheric density would generate the most frictional heating on a standard sphere falling from infinity to the planet surface?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 29, 2007 #2

    Danger

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    Gold Member

    Neutronium, although I don't think that most people would categorize it as an 'atmosphere'.
     
  4. Sep 29, 2007 #3
    Wouldn't neutronium, not being a fluid, inhibit the sphere from falling to the planet? I was thinking more of a gaseous atmosphere, whose density at any one altitude (for the hypothetical planet mentioned) happens to be dependent on its depth, or total mass
     
  5. Sep 30, 2007 #4

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    At high energy, everything is a fluid. The question doesn't have an answer other than higher density = more friction.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2007 #5
    How about higher density --> 1. more buoyancy; 2. slower entry (due to friction overall); 3. greater heat conduction
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2007
  7. Sep 30, 2007 #6

    russ_watters

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    Staff: Mentor

    If you're dropping the object from infinity, the entry speed is determined by gravity. A thicker atmosphere doesn't change that, it just slows the object down faster once it gets there (generating more heat).

    Buoyancy is not ever a factor.

    Conduction and convection are not factors.
     
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