Near-Earth satellites are created in a way to ensure all their elements are burned upon entry into the atmosphere. But this does not always happen. A new experiment by the ESA aims to demonstrate what happens to space vehicles near our planet.
To mimic the Earth’s atmosphere, agency engineers built an aerodynamic tube out of plasma with a magnetic system rod inside — the most durable part of a satellite. Its heart is made out of cobalt, with the surface protected under a layer of reinforced carbon fibres. The main part is made out of a polymer composite, and the coils are made of copper. The melting of the device was filmed on video.
ESA announced that the results of the experiment confirmed the general calculations of their engineers. But they also encountered some surprises: some elements within the rod melted in an unexpected way. Scientists are now working to determine the cause of this phenomenon: calculation errors or defects in this particular coil.
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