Hypersonics is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated to help students explore thermodynamics and the importance of heat transfer as it relates to speeds over Mach 5.
Hypersonic is in reference to the speed of an object going past Mach 5. Research in this field has been ongoing since the 1960s with space shuttle programs that reach over Mach 25 during re-entry from space. Current ventures in space shuttle technology have shifted over to designing even more advanced materials in hopes of sustainability/reusability in space travel. Furthermore, the application of hypersonics to more regular commercial use, such as air travel, would reduce flight time significantly. What normally takes 5 hours to fly across the United States would only take 30 minutes!
The Department of Defense is researching hypersonics primarily for the purpose of strategic defense. Currently, hypersonic technology is readily available for military use but is very expensive and cost-prohibitive. Efforts are being made to identify and develop cost-effective counter-measures as means of layering defense strategies against foreign opposition. Innovation in this field can be found primarily through the development of materials as seen with space shuttles (carbon-reinforced materials) or sustainability of production of materials (3D printing).
In this activity, students will learn what hypersonics is as it relates to space shuttles and the role of thermodynamics and heat transfer in finding successful space flight.
Students will be able to
- Students will know the second law of thermodynamics (heat flows from hot to cold).
- Students will be able to model and simulate the laws of thermodynamics and heat transfer using the software Energy2D.
- Students will be able to use the engineering design process to determine the best materials for a thermal protection system for their space shuttle.
HS-PS3-4: Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics).
Activities to Gather Evidence
Free modeling software based on computational physics. Comes with built-in examples as well as allowing the user to design their own computational experiments.
This database provides thermal properties used in Energy2D. Users are able to look up different materials and apply their thermal properties within their computational experiments.