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Aerobrake

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The theory is sound, and has been used successfully by many unmanned probes, and a few unsuccessful ones. By skimming the upper atmosphere of a planet, one can use the atmospheric friction to slow one's speed enough to allow the planet in question to capture one into orbit about said planet. Only this wasn't theory, the planet was the king of the solar system, Jupiter, and the velocity to be slowed in the savage inferno was over 12 miles per second. The laminate ablative aeroshell that Leonov had carried from Earth would blaze as brightly as a star, eroding away to a small percentage of its original mass.
When Rob Caswell and I decided to create this series of images, and a design for the literary Leonov, based as closely as possible on the book, we realized what was described was a hard, ablative shield, not the inflatable ballute seen in the movie. The shield seemed to fit better with Soviet engineering sensibilities, anyway, hardy, basic and brute-force.

Modeled and rendered in Lightwave 8.5. The plasma plume and trail was done with hypervoxels attached to a polygon frame, then touched up in Photoshop a little for the still image.

Thanks for taking a look!
-Tom
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hgfggg's avatar
Captain! We just lost aft awesome buffers!