Re-entry vehicles designed for space exploration are usually equipped with thermal protection systems made of ablative material. In order to properly model and predict the aerothermal environment of the vehicle, it is imperative to account for the gases produced by ablation processes. In the case of charring ablators, where an inner resin is pyrolyzed at a relatively low temperature, the composition of the gas expelled into the boundary layer is complex and may lead to thermal chemical reactions that cannot be captured with simple flow chemistry models. In order to obtain better predictions, an appropriate gas flow chemistry model needs to be included in the CFD calculations. Using a recently developed chemistry model for ablating carbon-phenolic-in-air species, a CFD calculation of the Stardust re-entry at 71 km is presented. The code used for that purpose has been designed to take advantage of the nature of the problem and therefore remains very efficient when a high number of chemical species are involved. The CFD result demonstrates the need for such chemistry model when modeling the flow field around an ablative material. Modeling of the nonequilibrium radiation spectra is also presented, and compared to the experimental data obtained during Stardust re-entry by the Echelle instrument. The predicted emission from the CN lines compares quite well with the experimental results, demonstrating the validity of the current approach.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/alexandre_martin/53/