Visualize whirled pieces

The latest word from space:

The Mars Odyssey spacecraft uses three spinning reaction wheels to control its orientation in space. But on June 8, one of those reaction wheels jammed temporarily and sent the orbiter into a safe mode to await directions from mission controllers on Earth.

As part of the repair process, mission engineers activated Mars Odyssey’s spare reaction wheel on June 12, spinning it up to a mindboggling 5,000 rotations per minute in both the forward and reverse directions.

Hmmm. I quite often rev Gwendolyn’s little V6 up to 5000 rpm, and neither her mind nor mine ends up boggled. (There’s another 1600 before the redline.) And this is nothing compared to, say, a Dremel tool that starts at 10,000 rpm.

(Via the similarly-unboggled Alfred Centauri.)


  1. McGehee »

    20 June 2012 · 2:34 pm

    You and Alfred aren’t professional journalists. They don’t give J degrees to someone who isn’t boggled by looking at his own hand.

  2. Jeffro »

    20 June 2012 · 3:09 pm

    F1 engines are limited to 18,000 rpms (down from 19,000). No wonder they howl and scream.

  3. XRay »

    21 June 2012 · 11:48 am

    I know y’all all know this but from ‘wiki’…

    “Kinetic energy of the exhaust gas is captured using the turbine. The turbine housings direct the gas flow through the turbine as it spins at up to 250,000 rpm”

    So I’d say McGehee has properly framed the matter.

  4. CGHill »

    21 June 2012 · 7:26 pm

    Never owned a turbocharged anything myself, but good point.

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