Flow Physics & Surface Temperatures on Bluff Bodies During Hypersonic Mars Re-entry

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Nathan Steffen
Prashant Khare


Record ID: 137

Presenter Award: Excellence in Research Communication

Type: Podium Presentation (in-person)

Advisor: Prashant Khare

Abstract: Re-entry of a spacecraft into the Martian atmosphere occurs at hypersonic speeds. As a result of those hypersonic speeds, the flow conditions undergo thermo-chemical non-equilibrium and cannot be treated as ideal. Furthermore, the density of the upper Martian atmosphere is extremely low (rarefied), meaning the gas flow cannot be modeled the same way it is at sea-level on Earth or under similar conditions. While substantial research has been conducted to investigate rarefied hypersonic flow physics for re-entry in Earth's atmosphere, there exist only a handful of research investigations that address rarefied re-entry phenomenon in the Martian atmosphere. The purpose of this research is to study the flow physics and surface temperature of a bluff body entering the Martian atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, and to compare its surface temperature to that of a bluff body entering Earth's atmosphere. This is done using an increasingly popular method to model the fluid dynamics of a rarefied gas known as Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC). DSMC is a simplified molecular dynamics method which generates collisions stochastically based on the kinetic theory of dilute gases. Using DSMC, the outcome of this work will generate the knowledge of the flow and temperature fields that a bluff body will experience as it enters the Martian atmosphere. In the long term, this research will inform spacecraft designers of the heating loads that need to be developed to cooling strategies for manned Mars missions.

Article Details

Category: Exploring Beyond
Author Biography

Nathan Steffen, University of Cincinnati

Major(s): Aerospace Engineering