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Blacksmith

Hijacking Shock Heating for Aerodynamics?

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When you think about how the reentry shock heating works, raycasting to find the surfaces exposed to moving air, it seems like it would be easy to hijack that and use it to make an accurate drag model. If you could somehow add the angle of attack to what the raycast calculates, you could then combine that data with the exposed surface area of the part to find it's actual drag. After the maths for all of the parts is done, you multiply each by the thickness of the atmosphere and then apply the force in the physics engine. The force should probably just use the center of mass of the part to apply the force, but it would be even more accurate if you could apply the force from the center of the exposed surface. [i Have no idea how you would code that, but it would be nice for larger parts that are only partly exposed.] You could even forget the angle of attack bit entirely and that would already be a huge improvement from the current system. You could even combine the two processes, so that the raycast would find the combined variables for both systems, then apply the GFX and physics on the part at the same time. That would probably help with performance and sync. It would be easy to slip in reentry heating to that system, since you would have the surface area and atmospheric thickness already implemented, you could add in a quick algorithm to come up with a heat value, which could then be applied to the object at the same time as the physics and GFX. Obviously, this would help immensely for streamlined designs, so that only the parts in the airstream would be getting pushed on, and if AoA is added, then aerodynamic nose cones would finally have a purpose. Also, Asymmetric designs and unstable designs would be discouraged better.

[As a footnote, does anyone know if the raycast could be made to work from a plane, because if it comes from a single point, it would make wider craft become completely inaccurate. I have to assume either that is how it is in the vanilla game, or the use the prograde/retrograde axis to get the angle for the shock heating affects, because deorbiting large spaceplanes and space stations always looks normal in terms of angle on the shock heating affects.]

Thoughts? Anyone know how viable this is in terms of performance and feasability? Has there been some mention of converging to a similar method from the developers? Thanks for your time.

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Ferram, of Ferram aerospace research fame, actually did a thought experiment (Gedankenexperiment) and created a mod to test this out. He tried it, and the long and the short of it was that it didn't work at all well at low speeds, and wasn't even that great at higher speeds, particularly at higher AoA's. It was also pretty laggy if I remember, so I don't think they will be approaching this methodology, based on what's already been tested.

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