Simulating Rocket Plumes to Stick the Landing on Mars
With the Mars 2020 mission underway, a separate effort is using simulations to understand landing dynamics for tomorrow's missions. Researchers from the University of Michigan are working on high-powered computer simulations that model the particles set in motion by rocket thruster-powered landings. Particles disturbed by the landing spacecraft's rocket plumes can obscure the landing zone, and also damage the craft or other nearby equipment. Jesse Capecelatro, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, hopes the findings of their study on rocket plume-surface interactions will give NASA a better idea of what will happen when a spacecraft attempts to land. The Mars 2020 Perseverance is scheduled to land on Feb. 18, 2021.