In today’s times, it is hard to believe that a person has not seen the launching of a rocket. Well, definitely yes. We all have experienced this thing visually and it seems so exciting in person. But have you ever noticed that there is debris always falling from the sides of the rockets as it accelerates upwards? Apparently, if we see or observe it with a naked it then there are some panels attached to both sides of the rocket and as soon as it propels, they started to fall out.
But there is much more to this mechanism that is hidden inside than a vague concept. To answer it, there is a bit of chemistry involved here. We all must have learned in our high school that rockets always use oxygen or hydrogen (depending upon their type) which is kept in a liquid state but at very low temperatures. When it goes upward, in spite of the insulation, the uppermost layer or the exterior surface of the rocket becomes extremely cold at low temperatures and due to this condensation occurs, which causes the build-up of ice around its corners. And of course, then due to its exacerbating cycles of vibrations, the ice piled up there has to be broken into pieces. So, this is what we tagged as the “debris” which is actually the ice that fell from the side of the rockets. Saturn 5 and the Appolo Mission are examples of the “debris” falling as the rocket ascends. The whole process is being presented in the video given below as well:
After the Apollo mission, scientists then felt a need to minimize the effect and mitigate it as much as possible as it might have the potential to create hazards both for life on earth as well as in space orbits, which is also known as the “space debris” when it reaches into orbits. So, they have used a one-inch thick layer of “polyurethane foam” which makes the liquids survive and prevents them from converting into ice through condensation, when it comes in contact, thereby providing optimum insulation and protecting the outer surface of the tank from extreme temperatures. Research has still been ongoing on this concept to make it more efficient for future purposes.