Questions tagged [chemistry]

Questions regarding the application of chemistry in space exploration, for example the composition of rocket propellants.

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How do they know that the Dragonfly helicopter won't get quickly coated in tholin muck? Any desliming technology for camera lenses or propellors?

From Air and Space's Dragonfly Is the First Aircraft Built for the Outer Solar System; NASA returns to Saturn’s largest moon with a rover that can fly. which I just found in this heavily-sourced ...
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How did the kerosene-burning Black Arrow have transparent exhaust? (seems to just “hover” in photos)

Kerosene + LOX rockets have big, bright exhaust plumes, at least in the atmosphere; second stages are are a different matter: Why is the flame of the Falcon 9's 2nd stage (nearly) invisible? But ...
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Has a spacecraft ever actually sprayed a chemical (or anything) on to another spacecraft intentionally for any reason at all?

The question How many of these six military "orbital threat" techniques have been demonstrated in a (more or less) publicly recognized way? begins: If you are having a good day then under ...
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Is MOXIE's oxygen ready to breathe or is there CO2 and/or CO that would need to be scrubbed?

MOXIE splits two molecules of martian carbon dioxide into two molecules of carbon monoxide and one molecule of oxygen. Breathing elevated levels of CO2 ranges from unpleasant (to say the least and ...
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How did MOXIE “know” that it produced 5.4 grams of oxygen? Did it measure pressure rise in a container or just vent it? Did it use an oxygen sensor?

CNN's Perseverance rover just made oxygen on Mars is great and welcome news! While Ingenuity has been achieving one "first" on Mars Perseverance was quietly achieving yet another. After ...
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How much is known about those liquid metal droplets orbiting the Earth? (e.g. sizes, composition, orbits…) Are any actually tracked?

The question Orbit Guardians - bs, right? mentions a company proposing a smallsat that will capture then give a roughly 200 m/s retrograde "kick" to liquid metal NaK alloy droplets in LEO ...
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207 views

If high-test peroxide is most stable when pure, why are most uses of it in rocketry at lower concentrations?

Per the Wikipedia article for High-test peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide becomes more stable with higher peroxide content. For example, 98% hydrogen peroxide is more stable than 70% hydrogen peroxide. ...
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What is the products of a catalyzed reaction between Hydrogen Peroxide and Ethanolamine with Copper(II) Chloride?

I found this article about Hypergols, specifically H2O2. It mentions in table 3 and in the body of the paper that they found that Ethanolamine with Copper Chloride reacted vigorously. In my search for ...
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What instruments and techniques measured Mars' atmospheric D/H ratio which suggests (all of) it's water didn't evaporate after all?

The Time article Mars Has Much More Water Than Previously Known—But There's a Catch says: The greater weight of deuterium causes it to behave differently in the Martian atmosphere. While free ...
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Dinitrogen tetroxide decomposes to nitrogen dioxide at room temperature, but rockets that use it are usually said to use N2O4 and not NO2 - why?

To the best of my understanding, both dinitrogen tetroxide and nitrogen dioxide are usable and perform quite similarly as oxidizers, but rockets that use either are almost always said to use ...
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Why didn't propylene fly? (Vector—yes, Vector—is back)?

Ars Technicha's Rocket Report: SLS has technical problems, Vector—yes, Vector—is back links to Vector restarting operations under new ownership which says: One thing they did wrong was the technology ...
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How hard is the hardest ice in the solar system? Is it in Pluto's ice mountains?

NPR's Pluto Has White-Capped Mountains, But Not Because There's Snow includes the following: "Initially, it seemed logical that this high-altitude frost could form like on the Earth," says ...
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Why maintain nominal engine inlet mixture ratio for a gas generator engine?

I was reading up on gas generator cycles and came across the following paragraph talking about fuel or oxidizer rich gas generators and the different mixture ratios for the main combustion chamber ...
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1answer
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Specific Heat Ratio for a perfect gas mixture

I am reading Rocket Propulsion Elements by George P. Sutton & Oscar Biblarz, 9th Edition. In the fifth chapter, I was introduce to the specific heat ratio k for the perfect gas mixture, Eq. 5-7: (...
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Phosphine, yes — but where are the organic compounds on Venus?

There has been much speculation in recent news about the finding of phosphine on Venus, and what may be producing it. At the same time, when we look for clues of life elsewhere in the Solar System, we ...
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Can Chemical Engineer work on something related to space?

I am an undergraduate student (scientific section) living in Qatar. I have a big interest in astronomy and astrophysics and have participated in the IOAA (International Olympiad on Astronomy and ...
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Demonstrating molten oxide electrolysis on the Moon, what would require the most power, keeping it molten or driving the electrolysis?

It seems that oxygen may be extractable from oxides in lunar regolith using "some variant of the" molten oxide electrolysis. Assuming that solar energy is used in a lunar setting, what would ...
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How to predict reaction of propellants at chamber temperature and pressure? [duplicate]

I would like to understand how to calculate the complete reaction of propellants at chamber temperature and pressure. For instance taking ethyl alcohol (75%) and LOX combustion with mixture ratio of 1....
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227 views

Why might krypton have a lower utilization fraction than xenon for ion propulsion, and what can be done to improve it?

A comment below Why will Starlink satellites use krypton instead of xenon for electric propulsion? links to the 2011 preprint A Performance Comparison of Xenon and KryptonPropellant on an SPT-100 Hall ...
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Sabatier reaction oxygen to methane ratio for Mars ascent propellant

The Sabatier reaction is as follows: $$\mathrm{CO_2 + 4\: H_2 \rightarrow CH_4 + 2\: H_2O}.$$ If water is electrolysed $$\mathrm{2\:H_2O \rightarrow 2\: H_2 + O_2}$$ the global reaction becomes $$...
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Have light gases like hydrogen or helium been explored for ion propulsion?

This answer and discussion in comments below this answer mention that for an ion of mass $m$ and charge $q$ accelerated by a voltage $V$ the momentum it receives (impulse) is $$p = \sqrt{2mqV} = \...
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What is the most efficient way to go to Titan? [closed]

With ionic motors? or chemical engines? liquid propellant (LH2) or gas? What is the most compact way to make the trip? in the smallest possible rocket, for example the SS-520-5 is a 2-stage rocket, 11....
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Is there any practical application of trinitramide N(NO2)3 in rocket propellants

In 2010 researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden announced the discovery of new compound, trinitramide N(NO2)3, which could revolutionize production of solid rocket propellants....
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Is it possible for aluminium alloys in a explosion in space or on earth to become pure elemental powder particles? [closed]

If you have some kind of explosion, is it then possible for aluminium alloys to become powder particles?, is yes, can they become pure elemental aluminium particles?, or will they always be aluminium ...
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How can 3He be mined on the moon? [duplicate]

Now I know how it is detected, but what would the mining process be like? given that there is a lot on the moon but not concentrated, so you have to process large amounts of surface to extract a ...
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Hydrocarbons of Titan: Potential Applications

Imagine in the future that some space agency or corporation has deployed a manned mission to Saturn's moon Titan with the intent of collecting samples of its hydrocarbons. This is to be accomplished ...
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1answer
168 views

Are Mars' atmospheric CO₂, O₂ and CO in equilibrium? Are sunlight or chemical reactions involved?

According to the NASA JPL video linked below the top five gases comprising the martian atmosphere include CO₂, O₂ and CO. Do the proportions reflect some chemical equilibrium? Are sunlight or chemical ...
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1answer
215 views

What is a lithium fed GIT? How does it work?

This answer to What is the maximum speed an ion engine can propel a spacecraft at? mentions the following: Lithium fed GIT (gridded ion thrusters) have demonstrated 50,000 - 80,000 seconds of ISP (...
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1answer
408 views

Which scientific articles together give proof of all the chemical elements found on Mars?

Wikipedia about the elemental composition of Mars: Based on these data sources, scientists think that the most abundant chemical elements in the Martian crust, besides silicon and oxygen, are iron, ...
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Are there fuel cells for methane + oxygen? Could there be?

Hydrogen + oxygen fuel cells powered the week-long Apollo missions to the Moon and Shuttle missions to orbit, and there is a industry trying to build itself around hydrogen-fed fuel cell-based road ...
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What is the heaviest chemical element that has been recovered from beyond cis-lunar space? [closed]

Material has come to Earth from deep space (beyond cis-linar) and been subjected to scientific analysis both in the form of meteorites, and via robotic sample collection spacecraft and robotic ...
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Options for making rocket fuel using the Moon's natural resources

Based on what is known about the chemistry of the lunar surface through remote sensing and surface exploration, what raw ingredients are likely to be available that can be used to make rocket fuel?
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Are rocket fuels and LOX pure or are there additives?

I wonder whether there are any small amounts of additives in rocket fuels such as hydrogen and kerosene, or to the liquid oxygen, or if they are absolutely pure (barring any unintentional ...
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1answer
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What would a candle flame look like in low gravity?

We know what the flame of a candle looks like on Earth in 1g and what it looks like in weightlessness. But do we have an idea of what it would look like in Lunar (0.166 g) or Martian (0.38 g) gravity? ...
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1answer
240 views

What would be the performances of chlorine trifluoride as an oxydizer?

Inspired by this comment Assume that a particularly deranged moustache-twirling villain with way more time and resources than is reasonable decides to build a satellite-launching rocket using ...
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742 views

Sources of Xenon or other noble gases in space?

Xenon is a common choice for ion thrusters, though other heavy noble gases could work due to their low ionization potentials. I got thinking about building or refilling future space travel ion ...
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Molecular propellant in ion engines

This question was prompted by discussions on this question. Can there be an advantage to using a molecular propellant in an ion engine, as opposed to noble gasses or iodine? (Although iodine actually ...
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Removing perchlorate from Mars surface soil

It's known that there's a lot of perchlorate contained in Mars' surface soil. But could we take the toxic part out and make it become plantable? If so, how might this be done in a practical way on ...
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1answer
710 views

Density of propylene when used as rocket fuel, and advantages (if any) over RP-1?

Recently Vector space from USA has said that propylene is a better choice of fuel than RP-1. See Ars Technica's After a decade of testing, propylene rocket fuel may be ready for prime time Why is ...
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487 views

How quickly might a Titan rover or drone get covered in oil and dirt? Will it need windshield-wipers?

These questions and their answers address some potential aspects of a rover on Saturn's moon Titan. Titan rover survival challenges What are the technical challenges in building a Titan rover that ...
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Is abundance of chemical elements in the asteroid belt / solar system real through higher concentrations?

Given humanity would be once able to access any minerals in the asteroid belt and moons of planets, would be there some chemical elements (if stable isotopes exist) still considered as rare?
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Rock flipping operation

After the recent announcement of complex organics being found on Mars within the curiosity rover's meager 5cm drill depth, I had an idea about artificially increasing it: Is curiosity rover's arm ...
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What are the energy-to-mass ratios of some fuels/oxidizers, when including the oxidizer?

Energy-to-weight ratio is an important parameter. We would like it to be high so we don't have to carry around much fuel. Maybe you've heard some of the numbers for common fuels. Hydrogen is about ...
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Speculation. Will this “turning-co2-into-O2” zeppelin work in Venus? [closed]

Background: Me and a friend are trying to "colonize" Mars and Venus. He has Mars, and I have to "colonize" Venus. So, my intention was to do a slow terraform by creating zeppelins that convert CO2 ...
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What would a “water” landing on Titan be like? How viscous is the liquid?

The abstract to the recent paper Never-EVER Land - A Titan Flyer Concept is shown below. I've asked about the need for the aircraft to remain in flight continuously and land only at the end of it's ...
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What is the process to produce a chemical composition spectrum of a celestial body?

I have come across this spectrum, which depicts the chemical composition of Titan's atmosphere: Taken from here. I would like to know how do scientists generate such spectra, starting with capturing ...
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Got Milk? Why is the term “colloid” used in “Colloid or Electrospray thruster”?

From this answer to the question "Difference between colloid thrusters and electro spray thrusters" I've extracted the following: According to the Wikipedia article Colloid thruster they are the same ...
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252 views

What is a pickup ion?

I've been reading several publications about Titan's atmosphere and chemistry, and the term "pickup ion" kept appearing here and there (see this publication for example). I looked it up and found the ...
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1answer
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How (if possible) can we assess the isotope variations on martian soils?

I'm personally interested in the biological implications of different isotope variations on biology. This can be tested on earth by separating them and just observing, but determining the isotope ...
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Can I make my own RP1? [closed]

Is it possible for me to buy kerosene from a local store and then try to refine it to the extent where it would be considered RP1. If so how would I do it? For those who are wondering me and a group ...