The Orion Heat Shield Mapping Tool collects data from a set of output files from various re-entry thermal response codes, interpolates the data, and maps the analysis code data onto a finely meshed finite element model.

The tool consists of two major components. The first is a set of MATLAB scripts that collects output from the multiple text files generated by the thermal response code and formats the data into a usable form for getting temperature load cases into a NASTRAN bulk data file for structural analysis. The second component is a suite of MSC Patran command language (PCL) functions that automatically creates a representative finite element model (FEM) in Patran that is a virtual geometric representation of the thermal response code data.

The FEM thermal model contains a node at every location where thermal response data is provided. The output from the MATLAB routine is a PCL function that will first create a FEM spatial function of node number versus temperature for a user-defined time in a desired trajectory, and secondly create a temperature load case pointing to the newly created spatial function. The end result is a Patran thermal model that is a complete thermal representation of the heat shield assembly at any given point in time in a trajectory.

After the thermal model has been generated, the user can obtain a nodal results file (NRF) using the MSC PThermal solver. Using the neutral files from the thermal model and structural model, along with the NRF, the user can access the temperature mapping utility from the PATQ menu, interpolate the data, and map the temperatures onto the desired structural model.

This work was done by Mark Thornblom of Langley Research Center. For more information on this technology, contact Langley Research Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to LAR-17767-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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