you gotta love...
... those crazy Japanese! utterly pointless but fun!
Researchers from the University of Tokyo have hooked up with the Japan Origami Airplane Association for what is quite possibly the most splendidly pointless space experiment of all time - the development of a paper plane capable of surviving re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after launch from the International Space Station. …
I've wanted to know what would happen to a paper plane launched from orbit since I was a kid back in the 70s! I've always maintained that a paper plane would survive such a descent because it's surface area to mass ratio is too great for it to be able to sustain such high speeds. Since the atmosphere becomes progressively thinner with altitutude, the plane will have plenty of time to slow down long before it reaches the troposphere.
Most likely, it will be YEARS before the plane reaches the ground, and unless it is waterproof it probably won't survive that long anyway. Given that 70% of the Earth's surface is ocean, and vast areas of land are still only sparsely populated, the odds of anyone finding it when it does land are extremely slim. What they should do is attach one of those tiny radio tags scientists use to track bird migrations to it. Then the experiment could also provide useful information about air movements in the Earth's upper atmosphere, as well as allowing everyone to see where, and if, it does come down.
Nah my paper planes were well fast.
I would have to have an asbestos nose-cone added to stop it burning up
if I make it out of photopaper it might survive water for a bit, but the print on it would come off. Epson ink just isnt as good as it used to be :)
Maybe a race with differing designs?
" ... air crash investigators have determined that the engine failure was caused by a collision with a message of peace inscribed on a Japanese paper plane at 30,000 feet ..."
Seriously though, this could potentially have actual implications. There must be some use for such a lightweight, slow re-entry vehicle.
There was one in the Rupert Annual around 1965 which I've always found can be tweaked for long flights (out of the classroom on the 2nd floor and over the tennis courts)
Got to agree this needs an International Competition - one slot open to the winners of "The Great Paper Plane Race" competition on the BEEB (judged by Prof Heinz Wolff natch)
And a prize for anyone finding one (trip up to ISS to lauch the next years entrants...)
Actually, this can be quite an interesting experiment. If it actually survives reentry (that is: Doesn't flash into ash), it would give some weight to the "reusable space flight vehicle" argument, especially since the current version of such a vehicle (the space shuttle) has about the same flight characteristics as a brick. A better (aerodynamically) glider may take longer to pass through the atmosphere, but have less chance of incinerating its biological cargo...
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Isn't... errr... like the 95% of all space missions splendily and utterly pointless? (except for comm satellites, of course)
Seriously, space missions are as useless as studying dinosaurs... or the Voyager missions... or...
* Posted anoymously: I don't want to be disturbed while I dwell in my self-induced dark ages
..and prototype piccy here:
I like the idea of this experiment as it's a bit of a laugh. However, I wish these space people would take their eyes off the skies, look out their windows and spend their funds helping to sort out the sh1t going on on the planet's surface instead.
Quote from Anon Cow: " .... However, I wish these space people would take their eyes off the skies, look out their windows and spend their funds helping to sort out the sh1t going on on the planet's surface instead."
Riiight. I get you. Like solving the world's problems is soo easy, isn't it? What were we all thinking - we just need to ask the space geeks to take over. Unless you *did* mean putting a bullet through the head of most politicians and those wanting to be politicians ... or famous .... and tabloid journalists.
And people who stop in the right lane before signalling right ....
"It's really overwhelming that a boomerang will go to space instead of me."
Maybe, but probably reassuring, if it turns out that it doesn't always come back...
Great newspaper though. Surprised El Reg hasn't followed up on:
"Transport official caught forging train passes to get cash to buy model train set"
not to mention
"Frisky judge quits after biting sex shop employee"
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