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How many grains of sand does it take to form a heap?

An orbiting spacecraft is flying many times faster than the speed of sound. It's starting in atmosphere too thin to sustain an audible shock wave. As it descends, it's going to be producing a shock cone continuously, but in the very thin atmosphere high up, the amplitude of the shock wave is too faint to hear.

At some point in the descent, the air would be thick enough for you to barely hear it if it were close by -- the tiniest sonic boom.

At some lower point, it would be audible even at a distance.

Low enough, the shock wave is occurring in air dense enough that it's loud enough it could rattle windows.

Because the speed of sound is lower at high altitude -- and doesn't change all that much along the way -- the sonic boom would be continuous all the way down, until the craft went subsonic at relatively low altitude.

How many grains of sand does it take to form a heap?

An orbiting spacecraft is flying many times faster than the speed of sound. It's starting in atmosphere too thin to sustain an audible shock wave. As it descends, it's going to be producing a shock cone continuously, but in the very thin atmosphere high up, the amplitude of the shock wave is too faint to hear.

At some point in the descent, the air would be thick enough for you to barely hear it if it were close by -- the tiniest sonic boom.

At some lower point, it would be audible even at a distance.

Low enough, the shock wave is occurring in air dense enough that it's loud enough it could rattle windows.

How many grains of sand does it take to form a heap?

An orbiting spacecraft is flying many times faster than the speed of sound. It's starting in atmosphere too thin to sustain an audible shock wave. As it descends, it's going to be producing a shock cone continuously, but in the very thin atmosphere high up, the amplitude of the shock wave is too faint to hear.

At some point in the descent, the air would be thick enough for you to barely hear it if it were close by -- the tiniest sonic boom.

At some lower point, it would be audible even at a distance.

Low enough, the shock wave is occurring in air dense enough that it's loud enough it could rattle windows.

Because the speed of sound is lower at high altitude -- and doesn't change all that much along the way -- the sonic boom would be continuous all the way down, until the craft went subsonic at relatively low altitude.

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source | link

How many grains of sand does it take to form a heap?

An orbiting spacecraft is flying many times faster than the speed of sound. It's starting in atmosphere too thin to sustain an audible shock wave. As it descends, it's going to be producing a shock cone continuously, but in the very thin atmosphere high up, the amplitude of the shock wave is too faint to hear.

At some point in the descent, the air would be thick enough for you to barely hear it if it were close by -- the tiniest sonic boom.

At some lower point, it would be audible even at a distance.

Low enough, the shock wave is occurring in air dense enough that it's loud enough it could rattle windows.