Questions tagged [physics]

How physics applies to a particular activity in space or to getting to space.

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What is MAHLI's theoretical or expected best optical resolution? How was it defined? Was it verified on Mars?

The block quote in this answer to Has Curiosity ever taken a good hard look at the dirt covering its top surface? Can it? Have individual particles been sized? says that at a focus distance of 2.5 ...
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When burns are made during inefficient parts of the orbit, where does the lost energy go?

Any Kerbal Space Program player will know that burns prograde and retrograde to the velocity vector are most efficient closest to the body being orbited, while burns normal and anti-normal are most ...
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Would the Yarkovsky effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun?

Previously I'd mistakenly asked Would the Poynting–Robertson effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun? when I'd meant to ask about the Yarkovsky effect which can be much ...
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What is the theoretical smallest size limit for a phased array antenna that can reach LEO?

Now that one provider is operating a phased array ground-to-satellite internet comm system, others will follow. A frequently asked question is "When can we use Starlink with a sat phone?". ...
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For a DAWN-like solar-electric deep space mission, would using propellant particles much heavier than xenon atoms be beneficial?

For deep space missions using ion propulsion that are power-limited, this answer explains that a large mass/charge ratio ($m/q$) species is desirable. The solar-electric propulsion system used by the ...
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What exactly gives a larger field of view to the donated "spy" telescopes that NASA may send to Mars? How much larger?

This answer to Could one of the interstellar probes discover Planet IX by accident? links to Space.com's NASA May Launch Donated Spy Satellite Telescope to Mars which says: An unexpected gift The two ...
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When was Newton "not good enough" for spaceflight; first use and first absolute requirement for relativistic corrections?

Concepts in Special Relativity (1905) and of General relativity (first developed between 1907 and 1915) substantially predated spaceflight; they were well known and had been tested well before objects ...
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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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163 views

What's the farthest an ISS astronaut gets from the station's center of mass during routine activities? At 0.5°/s what centrifugal effects are there?

This answer to Are there really “Dead End” signs on the outside of the International Space Station? won't be helpful here since for the purposes of this question spacewalks aren't part of routine ...
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Modeling a rocket using Tsiolkovsky's equation and ordinary differential equations

So I have this uni assignment to make a model out of ODEs, and my idea was to use rockets. After some research I found about Tsiolkovsky's equation and tried using it on a Falcon 9 (disconsidering ...
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Is the Parker Solar Probe's semimajor axis being so close to that of Mercury's just coincidence? Does it help somehow?

Parker Solar Probe will end up in it's Sun-kissing orbit though a series of Venus flyby's, which roughly pins Parker's aphelion at Venus's semimajor axis or about 108 million km. Its final perihelion ...
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What exactly is a solar gravity well manouver and in what cases would it be helpful?

In this answer to the gedankenexperiment question With current state of technology if we wanted how long would it take for newly launched probe to overtake Voyagers? I've seen the term "solar gravity ...
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Is Quantum Entanglement technology possible for interplanetary communication in future to achieve low real-time latency?

There is a small debate over the comment session in NASA Lands InSight on Mars video uploaded by JPL. The 1 minute and a half video is about the essential part of InSight's EDL event cropped out from ...
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642 views

Techniques for digital superluminal communication

Considering photons only travel at the speed of light (and cannot travel faster), our main technique of digital communication (at least I believe, but I could be wrong) is off the table. What ...
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How do jetpacks work in space?

I've seen in some videos of astronauts that they used to use a jetpack type system to maneuver in the vacuum of space around the ISS and other satellites using pressurized gas. From Wikipedia ...
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Estimating thrust and kg fuel for a generation ship's journey to Alpha Centauri

Premise: A generation spaceship leaves Earth around the year 2060 on a journey to colonize Alpha Centauri A (ACA). In this fiction, fusion power is achieved in 2040, improved over 20 years, and used ...
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475 views

What (if anything) limits the efficiency of a rocket engine?

Humans have developed lots of rockets. I observe that in most cases to increase the payload capacity we just increase the amount of fuel. Is it not possible to exponentially increase the efficiency ...
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If an astronaut threw a cup of coffee into space, would it freeze, or boil off into gas?

If an astronaut threw a cup of coffee into space somehow, would it freeze into a block, or boil off into gas due to the zero pressure?
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Would hypothetical aliens from super-earths be larger and stronger then humans? [closed]

I’m curious how physics would affect the size and strength of human like aliens on super-earth worlds with 1 to 2 times the gravity of earth compared to humans. Would they be similar or be larger or ...
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Simple Ionic Drive Problem

I am having trouble with my calculated values for part B of the problem. In part A I used the formula F=qE, where F is the force, q is the charge = 1.6 * 10^-19 coulombs and E is the electric field = ...
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Why can solid rockets be both the skinniest and most spherical launch vehicles while liquid fuel rockets have a more limited range of aspect ratios?

Question: Why can solid rockets be both the skinniest and most spherical launch vehicles while liquid fuel rockets have a more limited range of aspect ratios? Are there fundamental engineering ...
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How does Curiosity's X-ray diffractometer work? Does it measure only one angle at a time or does it have an area detector?

Per this answer to Are quasicrystals common on the Moon and Mars?, Curiosity has an X-ray diffractometer. X-ray diffraction from 3D crystals can (begin to) be understood by embracing Bragg's law. A 3D ...
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What does the exhaust plume of a rocket look like in vacuum?

There are plenty of photos of rocket tests and launches in atmosphere, and in these the exhaust plume tends to be a long thin flame. Is this true for when rocket engines operate in a vacuum? My guess ...
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Is a PhD in space-related technology from a Physics background possible?

I am 24 years old, from Argentina. Next year I will finish my 6-year degree in physics from the University of Buenos Aires (We've been told that it is equivalent to a master's degree, but maybe is ...
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154 views

If you travelled at exactly the speed of light, what would the stars look like behind you? [closed]

If you were in an Alcubierre drive bubble travelling at exactly 1 c, I wonder what it looks like if you looked back, to the direction you come from. If you went faster-than-light you'd obviously see ...
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139 views

How do grid fins actually work? Which aerodynamic mechanism(s) produce the torque on the spacecraft?

I’m trying to model the steering force that grid fins exert on a falcon 9. I know these things are not just grid-shaped fins but actually grids of fins. And each of those fins will experience drag and ...
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How does a "hybrid orbital raising system" based on R-4D (N2O4/MMH) + SPT-100 (Hall effect) work exactly? (Intelsat 38 & 39)

Astronatix's Intelsat 39 lists the two engines SPT-100 Stechkin 1.35 kW Hall thruster. R-4D Marquardt N2O4/MMH rocket engine. 490 N. Question: Why is this combination on Intelsat 39 called "hybrid" ...
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Why is hydrogen better than helium as remass?

I just watched a very good YouTube video on why nuclear engines might be useful, and it also goes into why Hall Effect thrusters are super good at squeezing obscene ISP out of things. During the video,...
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399 views

What liquids last the longest in space?

I am trying to find something that is somewhat stable as a liquid in space. What happens to various liquid elements and compounds in a vacuum? Is there a list or table of the effects of local space ...
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255 views

When does a specific equipment at a certain temperature start to freeze in interstellar space?

This is my first post here. I'm working on a project which involves a number of problems and some parts of that are related to empty space and space exploration. I try to be focused and reflect one of ...
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How difficult to gravity assist brake on entry to Alpha Centauri system? [duplicate]

Say a generation ship arriving at Alpha Centauri A system wants to get into orbit (or land) on an exoplanet there. After decelerating for the 2nd half of the journey, their approach velocity is still ...
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Kinetic reaction from emission of electromagnetic radiation

If an object is emitting 1 watt of electromagnetic radiation directionally and has negligible black body radiation, how much thrust is produced? How can you calculate this generally?
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What is the "pendulum rocket fallacy" as it relates to analogizing a pencil balanced on a finger to maintaining attitude of a hovering rocket?

I've received comments that explain to me that the analogy between rocket attitude control during a hovering maneuver and the act of balancing pencil on the end of a finger is a helpful and good one; ...
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Star-shaped artifacts in SAR images of the "Suez Canal traffic jam seen from space"

Wikipedia's 2021 Suez Canal obstruction links to the Sentinel-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) image of the Traffic jam in the Gulf of Suez caused by the obstruction as seen by the Sentinel-1 ...
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Help understanding vectors in diagram from "Magnetohydrodynamic flow control during reentry" and the actual goal of this research

A link to the ESA Advanced Concepts Team page Magnetohydrodynamic flow control during reentry was recently shared under Re-entry Heat Shield Alternative. It says: During the reentry phase, spacecraft ...
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Since Vesta is rotating, could you dig a habitat into it near the poles?

Would building a crescent shaped habitat work if you didn't want to go all the way? Edit: I'm asking if this would be enough to provide artificial gravity, sorry not not being clear about it.
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Pendulum rocket fallacy - so why *do* skyrockets have sticks?

This question is inspired by two, linked questions. Skyrockets (of the pyrotechnic/firework kind) have guide sticks, which are (according to internet sources) to enhance stability: "The guide ...
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Oberth Effect in Solar Sails: Where does the extra energy comes from?

Suppose, the reflectors of Solar Sails are opened for same amount of time at both periapsis and apoapsis. How does Oberth effect work in this case? Will Delta-V be same and hence change in Kinetic ...
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Is it possible to get a spacecraft into earth orbit using Linear Eddy Current Braking on an orbital runway?

The "Space Runway" [I have slightly edited this to clarify some issues that have been raised] Luke Parrish mentioned an unusual and novel space launch method to me. The idea is to get a spacecraft ...
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How do you "make" a soliton? (recent peer-reviewed theoretical work in FTL travel)

I've just read an Article on the new approach on Warp Drives Dr. Erik Lentz describes. Instead of creating a bubble with negative energy density, he describes a Soliton in spacetime, which he ...
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376 views

Design of starship fins

How much can the falling speed of starship approximately be reduced by the bellyflop fall with fins? Are we talking about numbers around 5% or 50% here? Wouldn't it make sense to put holes where the ...
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(How well) Did Juno provide any insight into the Flyby Anomaly?

I ran across an old BBC article titled Juno: The spacecraft putting sling theory to the test — Why a probe passing our planet on its way to Jupiter might end a decades-old mystery, and reveal ...
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Understanding the rocket equation - calculating Starship delta v

I am trying to calculate delta v of Starship - both as separate stages (Starship [SS], Super Heavy [SH]) and as a fully stacked rocket including 100t payload. I know that I have to calculate 2 ...
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When they shoot lasers at the Moon for ranging, what is the shape of the beam?

Laser ranging of the Moon is usually done with a Q-switched pulsed laser fed into a big (1 or 2 meter diameter) telescope as a collimator in order to get a tight beam all the way to the Moon in hopes ...
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what would happen if there were windmills in space? [closed]

If there was a windmill in space and you spun it, would it spin forever creating infinite energy? or would it somehow slow down or not create energy? if instead of wind you used magnets to spin the ...
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Sources for values for realistic thrust calculation exercise?

I want to use this simplified equation to calculate the thrust of multiple different real engines: $$F = \dot{m} V_e + (p_e - p_0) A_e$$ Source: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/rockth....
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How to find/extract the semi-major axis from a TLE with Skyfield?

I have a TLE: 1 33591U 09005A 21024.46740879 .00000049 00000-0 52095-4 0 9997 2 33591 99.1927 41.5349 0014084 172.6670 187.4709 14.12449679616592 And I would like ...
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What would be necessary in order for us to achieve a single stage to orbit, reusable rocket?

I have read articles and seen videos explaining why an SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket* is not possible. But I was wondering... What would be required to achieve this? Answers can be literally ...
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How to drink water on Mars?

There are craters filled with water on Mars as shown below. If fresh water is found, how would astronauts drink the water? Can the Apollo a spacesuit food/drink port be used to equalize the pressure ...
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Did the Space Shuttle crew have to worry about the ionosphere? What relevant training or specific briefings did they receive?

Comments below this answer tell us that the Space Shuttle always remained in Earth's atmosphere. When it visited the Hubble Space Telescope or the ISS or Mir it was still in the thermosphere and ...

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