Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
   
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

ablation




  1. ablation of Mercury capsule model
    Ablation of Mercury capsule model.
    Credit: NASA

    Removal of the surface layers of a meteorite during its passage through the atmosphere.

       • METEORS AND METEORITES



  2. Removal of surface material such as occurs in a combustion chamber, or the controlled degradation of the leading surfaces of a spacecraft during atmospheric reentry or passage through a dusty medium in space, such as the tail of a comet. An expendable surface made of ablative material may be used as a coating in a combustion chamber, or on the heat shield of a reentry vehicle. As the ablative material absorbs heat it changes chemical or physical state and sheds mass, thereby carrying the heat away from the rest of the structure.

    See also reentry thermal protection.

       • REENTRY PHYSICS AND TERMINOLOGY



  3. In glaciology, the loss of snow and ice from the surface of a glacier by melting, evaporation, or sublimation; also, the quantity so lost.

       • GEOLOGY AND PLANETARY SCIENCE



  4. The removal of dead or diseased tissue by excision (cuttig away with a sharp instrument), cryosurgery (freezing), radiotherapy, diathermy (burning), or laser treatment. Ablation of the thyroid gland is achieved with radioactive iodine isotopes.

       • HEALTH AND DISEASE