Would a large ceramic golfball absorb less heat on reentry than a standard sphere?
The difference in the flowfields around a smooth sphere and a rough, or dimpled, sphere can be seen above. Since the laminar boundary layer around the smooth sphere separates so rapidly, it creates a very large wake over the entire rear face. This large wake maximizes the region of low pressure and, therefore, results in the maximum difference in pressure between the front and rear faces. As we have seen, this difference creates a large drag like that seen below the transition Reynolds number.
Would the reduction in heat absorbed be significant enough to warrant a larger payload via lessening the weight of the heat shield?