Boiling inside, but keeping it cool

Making sure equipment stays at the right temperature is a headache for engineers and designers. Cooling the semiconductor that powers your device to display this text is becoming harder as chips get hotter.

An efficient way of getting rid of excess heat is by boiling it away. Liquid evaporates from the surface of a liquid while bubbles carry heat from deep down, but the process is complex and not fully understood by physicists – yet.

Experiments on parabolic flights have shown that vapour bubbles behave very differently on otherplanets or in space. In weightlessness the bubbles don’t detach from a heat source but stick to it and form a large heat-transferring cavity, offering great potential to help space engineers keep their satellites cool.

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Boiling inside, but keeping it cool

Making sure equipment stays at the right temperature is a headache for engineers and designers. Cooling the semiconductor that powers your device to display this text is becoming harder as chips get hotter.

An efficient way of getting rid of excess heat is by boiling it away. Liquid evaporates from the surface of a liquid while bubbles carry heat from deep down, but the process is complex and not fully understood by physicists – yet.

Experiments on parabolic flights have shown that vapour bubbles behave very differently on otherplanets or in space. In weightlessness the bubbles don’t detach from a heat source but stick to it and form a large heat-transferring cavity, offering great potential to help space engineers keep their satellites cool.

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Weathering the storm: AF eyes in the sky provide global weather data

In the absolute silence of space, a special group of satellites circles our planet in a fast, low earth orbit, their cameras and sensors point toward Earth as they record endless data and images of storm systems and weather patterns moving across the globe below.

Back on the ground, hidden in a D.C. suburb, Maj. Jonathan Whitaker squints against the sun and points to Marine One, the U.S. president's dedicated helicopter, as it arches its way across the horizon of the nation's capital.
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Capt. Melissa Bierma

Capt. Melissa Bierma
Capt. Melissa Bierma stands in front of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 25, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Bierma is satellite operator and executive officer with Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. The geographically separated unit manages the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD – in cooperation with NOAA. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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Maj. Jonathan Withaker

Maj. Jonathan Withaker
Maj. Jonathan Whitaker stands in front of the he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 26, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Whitaker is the commander of Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group, a small unit of four Air Force officers, who work with NOAA civilians on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD. The seven-satellite constellation supplies weather data and imagery to the Air Force Weather agency as well as military and civilian organizations around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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Capt. Tyson Johnson

Capt. Tyson Johnson
Capt. Tyson Johnson stands in front of the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facilitySept. 26, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Johnson is the ground flight commander with Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. The geographically separated unit manages the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD – in cooperation with NOAA engineers and satellite operators. The system supplies weather data to the Air Force Weather agency as well as military and civilian organizations around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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Capt. Nathaniel Sharkey

Capt. Nathaniel Sharkey
Capt. Nathaniel Sharkey stands in front of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 26, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Sharkey is the director of operations for Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. The geographically separated unit manages the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD – in cooperation with NOAA engineers and satellite operators. The seven-satellite constellation supplies weather data and imagery to the Air Force Weather agency as well as military and civilian organizations around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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Capt. Melissa Bierma

Capt. Melissa Bierma
Capt. Melissa Bierma stands next to an engineering model of a GOES sounder satellite component Sept. 26, 2014, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility in Suitland, Md. The GOES sounder is a radiometer designed to provide data that allows meteorologists to deduce atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles. Bierma is satellite operator and executive officer with Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. The geographically separated unit manages the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD – in cooperation with NOAA. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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Space Airmen partner with NOAA

Space Airmen partner with NOAA
Civilian satellite operators work in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility Sept. 25, 2014, in Suitland, Md. Detachment 1 of the 50th Space Operations Group, a small unit of four Air Force officers, works with NOAA civilians on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD. The seven-satellite constellation supplies weather data and imagery to the Air Force Weather agency as well as military and civilian organizations around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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Capt. Tyson Johnson

Capt. Tyson Johnson
Capt. Tyson Johnson stands in the satellite operations center Sept. 25, 2014, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s satellite operations facility in Suitland, Md. Johnson is the ground flight commander with Detachment 1, 50th Space Operations Group. The geographically separated unit manages the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – the only weather satellite system in the DOD – in cooperation with NOAA engineers and satellite operators. The system supplies weather data to the Air Force Weather agency as well as military and civilian organizations around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexander W. Riedel)
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