Ablative armor

Ablative armor

Ablative armor is armor designed to negate damage by itself being damaged or destroyed through the process of ablation. In contemporary spacecraft, ablative plating is most frequently seen as an ablative heat shield for a vehicle that must enter atmosphere from orbit, such as on nuclear warheads, or space vehicles like the Mars Pathfinder probe. The idea is also commonly encountered in science fiction.

Military ablative armor

In a hypothetical military application, ablative armor would undergo a state change on weapon impact, perhaps vaporising, or disintegrating to a fine powder. This state change would carry energy away from the armored vehicle and into the vaporized armor material. In addition, the expanding layer of ablated vapor would physically push additional hot gas away from the shield in a process known as blowing.

Ablative armor is distinct from the concept of reactive armor, which uses a sandwich layer of explosives to disrupt the thrust of armor piercing ammunition, and is actually in common use in modern armored vehicles.

Uses in fiction

tar Trek

Ablative armor frequently appears in the Star Trek universe. The USS "Defiant" was equipped with ablative armor in '. The ' explains that it works in two stages, when the shields are hit by a energy or particle weapon, phaser or thermal energy from the ship is dissipated across the hull, creating a boil-off rate that carries away most of the incoming beams energy. Most of the time the boil-off creates a particle cloud that is dense enough to disperse the incoming beam.

Ablative armor is used in the series finale episode of ""cite episode| episodelink=Endgame (Voyager episode)| title=Endgame| series=] in which a futuristic Admiral Janeway travels back in time and brings ablative armor along with a new armament of torpedoes to help "Voyager" bypass the Borg threat and allow the crew to get home sooner than her past self Captain Janeway did. The armor proved to be vastly more effective against the Borg than standard deflector shields.

Iron Man

In the comic book series Iron Man, one of the title characters' specialized outfits possesses regenerating ablative armor "for use in impact-rich environments" (Vol.3, # 71).

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