Originally posted by Gu1tarJohn
reply to post by Soloprotocol
It does seem surprisingly undamaged, but maybe the damage is just not visible in the picture. Perhaps it's on the bottom and/or other side.
Good observation, especially in that you were 'surprised' by how it looked, when in fact it's TYPICAL of what rocket tankage looks like after
reentry and thumpdown.
Without your realizng it, you have been fed on erroneous information about what are 'normal' looking space flight events. This is done innocently
and accidentally by a news media that doesn't try hard to get stuff right, just stuff that people EXPECT to see.
The bigger picture deals with what people EXPECT 'space debris' to look like, or moonwlak shadows, or time exposures of shuttle fireball
Their expectations are often 'surprised', and the first instinct is to suspect the phenomena themselves -- something's not RIGHT, there's an
anomaly, it's 'unexplained'.
This is a good case where the attention is focussed on where it belongs -- it's the "expectation" that is not right.
The remedy is reading up on spaceflight and watching real video materials, and it's not hard. It's enlightneing, exciting, and educational -- and it
makes future 'expectations' more realistic.
The primary barrier to accomplishing this is not the absence of accurate information -- it can be found.
The barrier is the presence of unrecognized inaccurate information in our minds. It has to be expelled to make room for accurate information.
This is one such opportunity.
Tanks survive entry remarkably well because, first, they are cooled by their remaining contents boiling off, and second, they are slowed quickly
because they are big but light. So the heat pulse is brief. Thicker air slows them even more. They then fall at 'terminal velocity', cooling in the
air, and hit the ground between 200-300 mph at most. Spherical tanks have enough structural integrity [they were built to hold gas at up to 2000 psi
or higher] to barely deform at all. Cylindrical tanks may or may not partially collapse.
That's what should be expected. The posters who candidly described their surprise here have done a service to all readers who were equally puzzled by
the condition of the tank in Africa.
This is progress. Well-earned praise.