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The atmosphere

  1. Dec 24, 2005 #1
    If you find a way to acctually travel (defining gravity of course) slowly like 20 MPH as you enter the earths atmosphere from space would you burn up? Is burning up just an effect because of the speed ships are coming in? Or, even if you were traveling at 10 MPH through the atmosphere would the gasses try to burn you up anyway?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 24, 2005 #2


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    The burning is cause of friction. If you come in very slowly then you wont burn up.
  4. Dec 24, 2005 #3


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    The burning of meters is caused by ram pressure.

    A meter traveling through the Earth's atmosphere produces a shockwave generated by *fast* compression of air in front of it. It is primarily this ram pressure (rather than friction) which heats the air which in turn heats the meteoroid as it flows around it.

    Ram pressure increases with velocity. If you stick your hand out the window of a car on the autobahn, theres a lot of ram pressure pushing on your hand (actually you're pushing on the air). This is because your velocity is greater than if you were driving in a parking lot.

    Really, those little mean gasses are trying to burn you up whatever speed you're going. The burn you up better the faster you go.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2005
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