Wednesday, Feb 26th 2020
3:10 pm in Anderson 036
The Physics of Spacecraft
Ever since the first successful launch of a rocket into orbit in 1957 and the establishment of NASA in 1958, the science of rocketry has been shrouded in an ambiguous sense of uncertainty by the American people. The phrase “It’s not rocket science” is often used to show a task or subject is not as difficult as something so complicated as rocketry, which shows the American view of the subject quite clearly. Through this presentation, I hope to convince you that the physics of spacecraft isn’t as intimidating or ominous as it seems. I will begin by explaining some of the physical requirements for flight and introduce the two main types of engines used. I will then transition into the physics of the launch itself by explaining the forces and the calculation derivations required to understand the necessary amount of thrust. Once we have a basis for understanding the launch, I will then explain the required physics of ascension into orbit, mainly focusing on the ascent trajectory, escape velocity, and will touch on booster staging. Lastly, I’ll explain some of the complications presented by the environment in orbit and some of the steps taken to ensure a rocket can survive sustained exposure. This will touch on such things as the Sloshing Effect, atomic oxygen erosion effect, and artificial space debris. By the end, I hope to be able to leave the audience with less foreboding and a more transparent perception of the physics of spacecraft.
Friday Feb 28th 2020
3:30 pm in Anderson 036
Photovoltaic (PV) technologies convert sunlight directly into electricity without any moving parts or chemical fuels. Using simple p-n junctions, we can generate free electrons from visible photons. While the fundamental operating principle may be simple, the complexities of the Shockley-Queisser (SQ) Limit dictate just how much electricity a given PV technology can generate from a given amount of sunlight. In this talk I will introduce the world of PV solar energy, explain the operating principles of PV, and evaluate current PV generation technologies using the SQ limit. I will also discuss the viability of PV solar energy and provide a simple method to return on investment for a rooftop solar array.
Monday, Mar 2nd 2020 8:30 am in Anderson 036