NASA finances the development of "parachutes" from plasma

    When they enter the atmosphere, spacecraft get very hot

    NASA space agency ordered the development of plasma parachutes from two companies at once, having fully funded their order (by itself). Now, when a spacecraft enters the atmosphere, a special unit will create a magnetic field around the satellite.

    When the plasma is ejected by the apparatus, the plasma will be captured by the magnetic field, and as a result, a kind of protective bubble will form that prevents the apparatus from colliding with air, followed by heating the casing to a very high temperature. Such a bubble, firstly, reduces the apparatus’s fall rate, and secondly, it prevents significant heating of the apparatus’s body that has entered the atmosphere.

    Currently, thermal insulation is installed on various probes and spaceships, which helps protect the device from overheating. Usually, only the casing is heated, which takes on maximum “heat stroke”. If any part of the casing (even very insignificant) fails, the ship is threatened with complete destruction as a result of overheating and failure of all systems. Here you can recall the catastrophe of the shuttle Columbia, the cause of which was the destruction of the outer heat-protective layer on the left plane of the shuttle wing. At the start of January 16th, this heat shield was damaged by the fall of a piece of oxygen tank heat insulation on it.

    The test of the new system will be held in 2015, with the CubeSat microsatellite ( MSNW) The device will be equipped with a copper coil, which will create a sufficiently powerful magnetic field around the device (the energy necessary for operation will be supplied by a lithium battery also installed in the device). When reduced, the apparatus should eject a small amount of plasma, which will be captured by the magnetic field, and as a result, a protective “bubble” will be created that prevents the collision of air molecules with the apparatus. In 2015, the satellite will be delivered to the ISS, and from there it will be sent to Earth. The success of the mission will be only one result: upon landing, the device will not burn in the atmosphere.

    Now, air molecules falling into the plasma cloud will be ionized, which will allow the magnetic field to capture ionized molecules. As a result, in a short time the device will have its own protective bubble, which can be called a gas parachute. Such a “parachute” performs two important tasks at once: it slows down the fall of the device and significantly reduces the heating of the case.

    If everything goes well, then this method of protecting the ship during descent will be used in much larger spacecraft, including landing modules with a team of astronauts who are returning from space.

    Via newscientist

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