Arc-Jet Simulations of Ablators for the Mars Science Laboratory Program
White, Todd Richard
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The NASA Ames team working with the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project has recently been involved in arc-jet tests to characterize the material response of candidate ablators to the high heat flux and high shear stress conditions that the MSL probe is likely to experience during entry into the Martian atmosphere. These tests have been conducted at the NASA Ames Aerodynamic Heating Facility (AHF), the NASA Ames Interaction Heating Facility (IHF), and the H2 arc-jet at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). The arc-jet experiments included high speed flow on stagnation pucks, inclined wedges, and swept cylinders. Complementary Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and material response simulations were computed to assess the agreement between measured and predicted aerothermal quantities on the various test articles. \n \nNew techniques have been employed for the pre and post test analysis of the arc-jet aerothermal environments using in-house codes developed at NASA Ames. Specifically, these methods address the modeling of non-uniform enthalpy and mass profiles in the arc-jet facilities, and the coupling of the nozzle flow with the test articles. Simulations of inclined wedges at AEDC H2 test conditions and swept cylinder at IHF test conditions using the DPLR code will be presented. In particular, computations of the thermal response of SLA and PICA will be compared with experimental data. These comparisons will highlight some of the uncertainties that exist in correlating the measured recession with the numerical predictions.