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Multiphysics models and simulations for reacting and plasma flows applied to the space exploration program (AEROSPACEPHYS)
Date du début: 1 sept. 2010, Date de fin: 31 août 2015 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Space exploration is one of boldest and most exciting endeavors that humanity has undertaken, and it holds enormous promise for the future. Our next challenges for the spatial conquest include bringing back samples to Earth by means of robotic missions and continuing the manned exploration program, which aims at sending human beings to Mars and bring them home safely. Inaccurate prediction of the heat-flux to the surface of the spacecraft heat shield can be fatal for the crew or the success of a robotic mission. This quantity is estimated during the design phase. An accurate prediction is a particularly complex task, regarding modelling of the following phenomena that are potential “mission killers:” 1) Radiation of the plasma in the shock layer, 2) Complex surface chemistry on the thermal protection material, 3) Flow transition from laminar to turbulent. Our poor understanding of the coupled mechanisms of radiation, ablation, and transition leads to the difficulties in flux prediction. To avoid failure and ensure safety of the astronauts and payload, engineers resort to “safety factors” to determine the thickness of the heat shield, at the expense of the mass of embarked payload. Thinking out of the box and basic research are thus necessary for advancements of the models that will better define the environment and requirements for the design and safe operation of tomorrow’s space vehicles and planetary probes for the manned space exploration. The three basic ingredients for predictive science are: 1) Physico-chemical models, 2) Computational methods, 3) Experimental data. We propose to follow a complementary approach for prediction. The proposed research aims at: “Integrating new advanced physico-chemical models and computational methods, based on a multidisciplinary approach developed together with physicists, chemists, and applied mathematicians, to create a top-notch multiphysics and multiscale numerical platform for simulations of planetary atmosphere entries, crucial to the new challenges of the manned space exploration program. Experimental data will also be used for validation, following state-of-the-art uncertainty quantification methods.”