PATRICK LANDMANN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PATRICK LANDMANN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ariane 5 interior. Engineer checking the assembly of the nose fairing of an Ariane 5 rocket. The fairing, made of four segments, protects the payload during launch. The inner surface of the fairing is covered with metal ring-shaped acoustic plates. As the rocket accelerates after launch, noise from the air rushing over the fairing builds up. This can damage the fairing, putting the safety of the rocket in danger. The acoustic plates absorb this noise, dissipating it harmlessly through the structure. Once above the Earth's atmosphere the rocket discards the fairing, allowing the payload (eg.
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