Why do Ships Lose Contact When Entering the Atmosphere?

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Offline thedoc

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Why do ships lose contact when they're entering the atmosphere?
Asked by Teo Gibson, via Facebook


                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.

[chapter podcast=4066 track=12.08.06/Naked_Scientists_Specials_12.08.06_10531.mp3]  ...or Listen to the Answer[/chapter] or [download as MP3]

« Last Edit: 07/08/2012 15:56:06 by _system »

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Offline thedoc

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Why do Ships Lose Contact When Entering the Atmosphere?
« Reply #1 on: 07/08/2012 15:56:07 »
We answered this question on the show...



If you have a high speed entry, you create a pocket of ionised gas around your probe.  The gas is heated up so much, it becomes ionised - itís stripped of its electrons.  That is not transparent to radio waves, so you have a radio black out. 
The same thing happens with vehicles re-entering the Earthís atmosphere.  It used to happen with the shuttle I think and the Apollo vehicles.  So thatís the main reason.  Itís the state of the gas around a high speed probe.
« Last Edit: 07/08/2012 15:56:07 by _system »