Friday, February 24, 2006

Egg Drop Aftermath: Autopsies

As today marks the two-week anniversary of our momentous egg launch contest, I thought I'd fill you in with a little more detail concerning the fates of our three rockets.

Vivek & Co. Potato Gun

Vivek's group's egg was, needless to say, completely obliterated. The vessel carrying it was just as wholy annihilated. The egg formed a small crater in the sand of the baseball diamond (see image at right).

The potato gun suffered some trauma of its own. As you can see in the video, Mr. Clippenger screwed the cap on very thoroughly. Unfortunately, this resulted in the cap being stuck shut. Fortunately, the issue has been resolved. :)

In addition, a small black film canister was found in the barrel of the potato gun. My hypothesis is that the canister was somehow part of Vivek's team's contraption, although I can't be sure.

Peter & Co. Long Rocket

Peter's group suffered a sad blow when their rocket's engine shot up through the body, through the egg, and forced its way out the top. The rocket itself never left the ground. The egg, found shortly thereafter, had a scorch mark and had been shattered, albeit not as completely as Vivek's.

The body shows few signs of trauma. One fin had broken off, although it is unclear how. The fin was found some time after the competition had concluded for the day, and was splattered somewhat with egg. The initial assumption was that the fin had come from my group's stubby cup rocket, but was changed after witnessed the missing fin on Peter's rocket.

The upper tube shows a slight rip in the cardboard, although it is unclear whether or not this was a result of the engine malfunction. The parachute, which (using the hole in the middle) had been slipped down over the nose of the rocket prior to launch, showed slight burns and fusing, although it is again unclear whether it was a recent injury.

The interior of the body shows no readily visible signs of scorching.

Toph & Co. Cup Rocket

The rocket appeared to launch well. The top portion separated as it was supposed to; the second stage opened up like a clamshell and deployed the parachute, just as it was supposed to. But upon landing it was found that the cup had split along the side and was oozing egg.

As it was a relatively soft landing, it is not clearly understood why the cup split. It is possible, from examining the video, that the rocket may have hit a tree branch. This would explain the strange crack, which we believe could not have resulted from that landing.

A second idea is that the stresses of liftoff cracked, compressed, and/or split the egg and cup. The parachute ejection charge that separated the booster phase from the carrier phase may also be to blame.

Mysteriously, the whereabouts of the remains of the cup rocket remain unknown. The video depicts Mr. Clippenger bringing it off to one side, but it is unclear exactly what he did to it or what happened thereafter.


Our inaugural egg launch/drop contest was not a success. However, it was certainly entertaining and educational. We look forward to a second contest sometime next year. That contest will hopefully be both better documented and more carefully analyzed. This is the Beaver SCIENCE and Engineering Club, after all. We should attempt next time to calculate such properties of each launch as velocity, distance, height, and more.

No comments: