Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laser cooling for spacecraft reentry

The usual technique is to cool things down to near absolute zero. But the proposition here is a bit different. The problem to be solved is getting rid of a lot of heat that does unpleasant things to spacecraft.  What to do about this heat?

Can you cool something large that is really hot?  How?  I am currently looking at solid state lasers.  Now, what happens when you do the laser cooling a bit differently?   Let's say that something's really hot and you can convert that to electricity, and then use that electricity to start up a laser.  Send that light energy out of the system by way of the laser.  The laser could be sent out into space, perhaps in a convenient direction, of course.

Is it possible to use the heat of reentry to make this electricity and then convert it to a laser that is fired into space?  The energy is rejected into space away from the vehicle in a form that does it no harm.  The energy loss to the system is the means by which the spacecraft can survive reentry.

The laser produces no thrust as photons have no mass.  The production of electricity leads to energy losses, which is normally an inefficiency, but in this case, it is an advantage, as that leads to the cooling that we are after.

I'll look further into this in order to figure if this is a practical way of approaching this problem.

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