The erosion of meteors and high-speed vehicles in the upper atmosphere

C. Frederick Hansen
naca-tn-3962
Mar 1957


A simple inelastic collision model of meteor-atmosphere interaction is used and analytic relations for velocity, deceleration, size, and relative luminous magnitude of meteors are derived and expressed in dimensionless parametric form. The analysis is compared with available quantitative observations of meteor behavior and it is indicated that a large fraction of the atmospheric bombardment energy is used in eroding meteor material. The erosion from large, high-speed vehicles as they traverse the high -altitude, free-molecule portion of the atmosphere is calculated, on the assumption that the vaporization process is similar to that which occurs for meteors. The maximum possible erosion does not create significant mass loss.

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