Scientists have developed a sophisticated computational model to study the intricate interaction between a rocket plume and the surface of a planet or celestial body. This model aims to shed light on the potential challenges faced during planetary landings.
The rocket plume, which is the flame-like material emitted by the back of a rocket, can create clouds of dust and debris when it interacts with the planet’s surface. These clouds can pose a threat to the safety and success of space missions by potentially damaging the rocket during landing.
Byoung Jae Kim of Chungnam National University, the lead author of the study published in the journal Physics of Fluids, explains the significance of understanding this interaction. It is crucial for ensuring contamination control, erosion prevention, precise landing, planetary protection, engineering design, and future exploration endeavors.
Using this model, the researchers take into account various factors such as the rocket’s engines, the atmosphere of the celestial body, and gravity. This enables them to estimate key characteristics of the rocket plume, including its size, shape, temperature, pressure, and the amount of material it would displace from the surface. This knowledge aids in mission planning and helps determine the necessity of a landing pad to facilitate safe rocket landings.
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