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Ablation as a technical term represents the removal of material at the surface which occurs at certain combinations of heat and pressure. At extremely low pressures, as encountered in space technology, surface material may be removed by sublimation at very moderate temperatures as soon as its vapor pressure is approached. In contrast to this “vacuum ablation,” the ablation at atmospheric and higher pressures requires considerable amounts of heat for activation and, consequently, lends itself to heat absorption. The present discussion is concerned exclusively with the latter type of “thermal ablation” and its application in thermal protection systems.
Steurer, Wolfgang H.
Convair, A Division of General Dynamics Corp., San Diego, Calif.