Brace for impact

A few milliseconds before a returning space capsule – or any object – falls into water, the water already ‘sees it coming’. The water’s surface takes the shape of the bottom of the falling object as the air layer trapped between the object and the water is squeezed out. UT-researchers from the Physics of Fluids group published two articles on this so-called ‘air-cushioning effect’. By exploiting this effect, engineers can shape the bottom of a spacecraft in such a way it decreases the damage caused by impact on splashdown landing.

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