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Re^6: "Practices and Principles" to death

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Mar 03, 2008 at 22:16 UTC ( #671729=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^5: "Practices and Principles" to death
in thread "Practices and Principles" to death

I never said it was an accidental collision.

I don't know the details of the device used, but in general in space there is no need to explode anything. Just kinetic energy from hitting it that fast is enough for total destruction. For instance the recent US effort to destroy their aging spy satellite did not use an explosive, they just ran a rocket into the satellite.

At the worst you might explode the missile very, very gently before impact to guarantee multiple impacts. I have no idea whether China did that, or just collided them. I assume collided.

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Re^7: "Practices and Principles" to death
by ack (Deacon) on Mar 06, 2008 at 05:03 UTC

    How does one 'explode' anything 'very, very gently'?

    For what it's worth, you're exactly right...nothing has to 'explode'. It really is all kinetic energy...the closing velocity between two objects at the altitudes discussed are about 14 km/sec (or a little under 14 miles/sec).

    About 15 years ago I was associated with a project to test hypervelocity impacts on the hypervelocity we meant velocities in excess of about 2 km/sec...which was the most we could create with very specialized devices called rail-guns (which were electromagnetic accelerators that could fire a small piece of steal (about the size of a thimble, but solid rather than hollow like a thimble) by a long series of elecromagnets that would successively accelerate the thimble faster and faster). They fired it into an embankment of heavy clay see what it would do (seems like the old saying 'The difference between boys and men are the cost of their toys').

    It basically left a crater about the equivalent of 50 to 60 feet across and about 10 to 15 feet deep...from a heavy thimble!

    Another annecdote is the infamous (well...infamous in my business) paint fleck (about 2 mm square and about a few thounsands of an inch thick) that struck one of the space Shuttle's forward windows. Those windows are about 4-6 inches thick specially made glass-like material. The collision, estimated at about 4-5 km/sec gouged out a crater about 1/2 way through the window and was about 4-5 inches across at the surface of the window.

    At 14 km/sec...the collision doesn't just vaporize most of the actually creates an ionized plasma out of much of the matter. The rest is varying degrees of dust and debris of a surprisingly large variety of shapes and sizes.

    So 'explosions' are of no particular value...the kinetic energy of the collision is plenty.

    ack Albuquerque, NM
      By exploding it very, very gently I was thinking of something along the lines taking a bucket of gravel and letting a puff of gas free in the middle. Causing the gravel to spread out. Thus guaranteeing many impacts all over the target. The purpose of which would be to be sure that no sizable fraction of the target remained in one piece.

      Thank you for your concrete examples demonstrating exactly what impact means at those speeds. I knew it was impressive, but was unsure of exactly how impressive.

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