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Re-entry vehicles for future space missions

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Come to hear from Dr Paul Bruce, Senior Lecturer in High Speed Aerodynamics at Imperial College London, about his research in the areas of unsteady compressible flow, high speed flow control and turbulence!

“Entering a planet’s atmosphere from space and landing safely on its surface is a significant engineering challenge. For more than 60 years, engineers have tackled this problem; developing atmospheric entry vehicles with an impressive track record of returning cargo and humans to Earth, and even sending (unmanned) missions to land on the surface of Mars. However, as our aspirations and ambition for exploring space grow, mission requirements are evolving beyond the capabilities of existing tried-and-tested hardware and a new generation of atmospheric entry vehicles is required. In this seminar, I will present the results from an ongoing project at Imperial to tackle some of the challenges of landing humans safely on the surface of Mars. The work centres on the development of a reduced-order model to capture the unique aero-elastic behaviour of this new class of vehicle as it negotiates the re-entry environment. I will try to provide answers to the following questions: How do we model atmospheric entry? Why is landing humans on Mars so difficult? What are the most promising candidate technologies for doing so? How do we design optimal large diameter aero-decelerator heat shields? Why do we need a coupled aero-structural solver? What are the potential challenges and benefits of designing flexible spacecraft? My goal in this talk is to provide some insight into the engineering challenges of future inter-planetary exploration missions and, ultimately, explain why we believe this warrants a new approach to spacecraft design and how we are working towards this goal at Imperial.”

This talk is part of the Trinity College Science Society (TCSS) series.

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