Friday, March 9, 2001
If you think Superman is fast, talk to Marcus Knudsun. His "Z accelerator"
uses a magnetic field to hurl tiny plates at speeds up to 20 km/sec. At 20 times
faster than a bullet fired from a rifle, the tiny plates are fast enough to
leave most Superheroes in the dust and also help aerospace and
telecommunications engineers simulate how space debris affects the metal skin of
orbiting satellites and space observatories.
Knudson is a physicist at Sandia National Labs who is researching how
materials react to pressure and temperature. "The impact velocities of space
debris can be quite high, on the order of 20 km/sec.," says Knudson.
"The amount of mass that is launched to high velocity is limited to a pellet
weighing a couple hundred milligrams," he says. "The technology will allow
testing of debris shields, something that would be of interest to NASA and the
The technique is said to be the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to
determine how materials react to high pressures and temperature. The
characteristics are expressed in formulas called "equations of state." The
equations aid the understanding of how materials react in extreme applications.
For more information, contact Knudson at (505) 845-7796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.