4 Must-Read COMSOL Blogs for World Space Week

astronaut in space

The universe beyond our planet has always held an irresistible allure, sparking our curiosity and igniting our imaginations. As we celebrate World Space Week this October, it’s the perfect time to delve into the captivating world of space exploration and discovery. In honor of this momentous occasion, we’ve curated a selection of three captivating blogs that shed light on some of the most intriguing aspects of space and planetary science.

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Before we start, let us briefly remind you what WSW is all about. The World Space Week Association states that:

“ The mission of World Space Week Association (WSWA) is to strengthen the link between space and society through public education, participation, and dialogue on the future of space activity using World Space Week as a focus.”

So, with that in mind, let us float right into it…

1. Rocket Innovations for Private Space Flight

In this blog post, Fanny Griesmer explains the evolution of rocket propulsion, starting with solid-fuel rockets.

Solid-fuel rockets pose a unique set of challenges in controlling flight due to continuous burning. 

In 1926, Robert Goddard introduced a game-changing innovation: liquid-fuel rockets. These rockets  store propellants and oxidizers separately and offer better control. However, they are complex when it comes to ground operations. 

The author highlights the rise of hybrid rockets as a solution. These hybrids combine solid propellants with liquid oxidizers for easier handling on the ground and controlled flight. Companies such as Scaled Composites are developing hybrid rockets for various projects like “SpaceShipTwo,” where oxidant flow regulation allows precise control during launch into space.

Read more.

2. How Does Sand Move on Mars? A Planetary Geology Question

In this blog post, Brianne Christopher states that studying sand behavior on Mars, particularly the sand dunes’ movement, can aid mission planning and provide insights into the planet’s history and habitable environments. 

Using the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers discovered that Mars’ sand moves most rapidly and significantly in regions with temperature variations and abrupt surface changes. These environmental features give rise to high-speed winds, affecting sand movement. 

Notably, Martian sand behavior contrasts with Earth, where vegetation and groundwater flow play a more significant role. Understanding Martian sand dynamics helps in aerospace mission planning and unravels mysteries about Mars’ past and potential habitability.

Read more

3. How to Model Supersonic Flows in COMSOL Multiphysics®

In this blog, Siva Sashank Tholeti explores the intricacies of modeling of supersonic flows, emphasizing the need to accurately resolve shocks and expansion fans in the process. 

The blog delves into the differences between subsonic, sonic, and supersonic flow, highlighting the importance of the Mach number and Reynolds number in determining the flow regime. The author discusses the estimation of shock angles and Mach numbers, particularly in the context of supersonic flow past a diamond airfoil. 

Furthermore, the blog demonstrates how COMSOL Multiphysics® can effectively model supersonic flow, achieving good agreement with theoretical estimates and providing insights into shock behavior and flow properties.

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4. Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling of the NASA Titan Wind Tunnel

In this presentation,  E. H. Sakimoto et al share their latest findings about Martian dunes and their underlying geological processes.

The equatorial region of Saturn’s moon Titan exhibits extensive aeolian dunes, likely composed of organics or organic-coated water ice. These dunes resemble those on Earth, Mars, and Venus, indicating active particle production, transport, and arrangement. 

Understanding the wind regimes responsible for mobilizing and shaping these dunes is crucial for insights into Titan’s climate, particulate sources, sand fluxes, and more. 

However, determining the threshold wind speed, which denotes the minimum velocity required to set particles in motion, is challenging but vital. To address this challenge, the NASA Titan Wind Tunnel (TWT) in California simulates Titan’s high-pressure atmosphere . This study combines empirical TWT data with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations to understand flow conditions and enhance modeling accuracy for both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments.

Read Sakimoto’s paper here.

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If you would like to take your education to the next level, check out our on-demand webinar: Introduction to Multiphysics Modeling with COMSOL that will introduce you to the full capabilities of COMSOL Multiphysics.

For further reading and if you are interested in finding out what FEM can do for the aerospace and defense industry, check out the COMSOL Multiphysics Capabilities for Aerospace and Defense blog.

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