Hey folks:

Is there a word to describe atmospheric aero-braking with the intent to disintegrate the object in question?

Like the theories about intentionally destroying ice asteroids in Mars' atmosphere for terraforming.

I feel like "aero-braking" has the connotation of wanting to keep the object in one piece.

Is there a term for intentional aero-disintegration?

@LouisIngenthron "sacrificial deorbit/re-entry" maybe? I just made it up, but it could work.

@LouisIngenthron I’ve seen erosion used in the context of orbital debris, but I don’t know of any missions where something was disintegrated with the purpose of modify the atmosphere so you might need a whole new word or phrase.

@anson Since “erosion” has the connotation of taking a long time, maybe “ablation” would be better. “An aero-ablation maneuver”.

@spaceflight Not for artificial craft, generally, no.

The use case in question was to ablate a natural body (i.e. an ice asteroid) through a planet's atmosphere to modify its environmental conditions, i.e. as a step in terraformation.

@LouisIngenthron sure, but if the terraforming includes warming 🌡️, the water would anyway go to the atmosphere ? (And if not, come down as snow ?)

@spaceflight Yes, introducing water vapor and heat to the atmosphere is the point.

Also, the asteroids could be of other types of ice than water, such as methane or dry ice (CO2).

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