Features of Afterbody Radiative Heating for Earth Entry
Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Radiative heating is identified as a major contributor to afterbody heating for Earth entry capsules at velocities above 10 km/s. Because of rate-limited electron-ion recombination processes, a large fraction of the electronically-excited N and O atoms produced in the high temperature/pressure forebody remain as they expand into the afterbody region, which results in significant afterbody radiation. Large radiative heating sensitivities to electron-impact ionization rates and escape factors are
... escape factors are identified. Ablation products from a forebody ablator are shown to increase the afterbody radiation by as much as 40%. The tangent-slab radiation transport approach is shown to over-predict the radiative flux by as much as 40% in the afterbody, therefore making the more computationally expensive ray-tracing approach necessary for accurate radiative flux predictions. For the Stardust entry, the afterbody radiation is predicted to be nearly twice as large as the convective heating during the peak heating phase of the trajectory. Comparisons between simulations and the Stardust Echelle observation measurements, which are shown to be dominated by afterbody emission, indicate agreement within 20% for various N and O lines. Similarly, calorimeter measurements from the Fire II experiment are identified as a source of validation data for afterbody radiation. For the afterbody calorimeter measurement closest to the forebody, which experiences the largest afterbody radiative heating component, the convective heating alone is shown to under-predict the measurement, even for the fullycatalytic assumption. Agreement with the measurements is improved with the addition of afterbody radiation. These comparisons with Stardust and Fire II measurements provide validation that the significant afterbody radiation values proposed in this work are legitimate.