Melting a piece of a satellite

by: European Space Agency, ESA     Published on: 24 June 2019

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Researchers took one of the heaviest, bulkiest parts of an Earth-orbiting satellite, placed it in a plasma wind tunnel, then proceeded to melt it into vapour. Their goal was to better understand how satellites burn up during reentry, to minimise the risk of endangering anyone on the ground.Taking place as part of our Clean Space initiative, the fiery testing occurred inside a plasma wind tunnel, reproducing reentry conditions, at the DLR German Aerospace Center’s site in Cologne. A magnetotorquer – designed to interact magnetically with Earth’s magnetic field to shift satellite orientation – was heated to several thousands of degrees C within the hypersonic plasma.As part of a larger effort called CleanSat, we are developing technologies and techniques to ensure future low-orbiting satellites are designed according to the concept of ‘D4D’ – design for demise – ensuring they will burn up entirely when they reenter the atmosphere. Credit: ESA/DLR/Belstead ResearchLearn more:★ Subscribe: and click twice on the bell button to receive our notifications.Check out our full video catalog: us on Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: Flickr: are Europe's gateway to space. Our mission is to shape the development of Europe's space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. Check out to get up to speed on everything space related.Copyright information about our videos is available here: