Mystery of self-destructing rockets solved

April 10th, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 10 (IANS) The racket that rockets make may be causing them to self-destruct, according to a new study that seeks to explain a phenomenon that has puzzled engineers and scientists for years. One reason the inexplicable destruction of rocket engines remained a mystery was because scientists were unable to replicate or investigate the problem under controlled lab conditions.

They, however, believed that powerful and unstable sound waves, created by the combustion process, caused failures in several US and Russian rockets.

Now, a Georgia Institute of Technology team has demonstrated that the phenomenon manifests itself in the form of spinning acoustic waves that gain destructive power as they rotate around the rocket’s combustion chamber.

The new imaging method developed by Oleksandr Bibik, a visiting Ukrainian scientist, enabled researchers to determine the conditions under which these waves are excited and how they can be controlled.

Researchers said better understanding of this phenomenon could very likely lead to safer tactical and space missions and save billions of dollars for technologies that use the Bibik method.

“This is a very troublesome phenomenon in rockets,” said Ben Zinn of the Georgia Institute. “These spinning acoustic oscillations destroy engines without anyone fully understanding how these waves are formed. Visualising this phenomenon brings us a step closer to understanding it.”

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