2010

Simulation Software Helps Phoenix Mission Interpret Data From Mars

ANSYS® fluid dynamics software
ANSYS
Canonsburg, PA
724-746-3304
www.ansys.com

ANSYS fluid dynamics software has helped researchers at the University of Alberta interpret weather data received from NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander. Using this software, researchers created a virtual environment of the planet’s atmospheric conditions, and discovered that under certain wind conditions, heat emitted from the lander could cause a temperature sensor to show higher-than-atmospheric values. The researchers also learned that other conditions such as obstacles upstream from velocity and pressure sensors could alter readings of wind magnitude and direction. Using these findings, the team specially calibrated the meteorological instruments through a large parametric study before the launch. After Phoenix touched down on Mars, the team carefully evaluated raw mission data by paying particular attention to the types of wind conditions that had produced tainted data in the simulations.

altThroughout the length of the mission, the team used ANSYS software to run simulations in parallel on a cluster to achieve, at times, super-linear speed-up. Quick turnaround time allowed them to complete simulations within the timeframe required for decision making.

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