Science blogger Kyle Hill at Nautilus, however, explains the effect as the result of ‘when a helicopter descends into a sandy environment, the enormous downward thrust from the blades inevitably kicks up a cloud of sand. Cutting through the sand and dust, the blades smash into millions of these tiny particles, each sandblasting metal from the blade. Most of the time the only visible consequence to the helicopter is pitting on the blades, with enough damage warranting replacement. Every so often, however, the metal blasted from the blades produces a miniature meteor shower.’
He goes on to explain that, to prevent deterioration of the blades, they are often coated with an abrasion strip, typically made of metals like titanium and nickel.
‘This abrasion strip can handle a lot of wear and tear, but the desert is a harsh environment,’ Hill explains. ‘Sand is harder than the titanium or nickel that makes up the abrasion strip, so when a helicopter’s blades begin cutting through a cloud of sand, the particles hit the blades and send bits of metal flying into the air.’
Those bits of metal come in a cloud of pyrophoric (flamable) particles, which ultimately burst into flames, thus causing the wondrous Kopp-Etchells Effect.
Read the Original Article Here. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2379932/Mesmerizing-halo-effect-caused-blades-landing-combat-helicopters-named-honor-fallen-soldiers.html
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