24/7 Space News
Rocket Exhaust on the Moon: NASA Supercomputers Reveal Surface Effects
Researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama produced a simulation of the Apollo 12 lander engine plumes interacting with the lunar surface. See video here
Rocket Exhaust on the Moon: NASA Supercomputers Reveal Surface Effects
by Gianine Figliozzi
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Nov 16, 2023

Through Artemis, NASA plans to explore more of the Moon than ever before with human and robotic missions on the lunar surface. Because future landers will be larger and equipped with more powerful engines than the Apollo landers, mission risks associated with their operation during landing and liftoff is significantly greater. With the agency's goal to establish a sustained human presence on the Moon, mission planners must understand how future landers interact with the lunar surface as they touch down in unexplored moonscapes.

Landing on the Moon is tricky. When missions fly crew and payloads to the lunar surface, spacecraft control their descent by firing rocket engines to counteract the Moon's gravitational pull. This happens in an extreme environment that's hard to replicate and test on Earth, namely, a combination of low gravity, no atmosphere, and the unique properties of lunar regolith - the layer of fine, loose dust and rock on the Moon's surface.

Each time a spacecraft lands or lifts off, its engines blast supersonic plumes of hot gas toward the surface and the intense forces kick up dust and eject rocks or other debris at high speeds. This can cause hazards like visual obstructions and dust clouds that can interfere with navigation and science instrumentation or cause damage to the lander and other nearby hardware and structures.

Additionally, the plumes can erode the surface under the lander. Although craters were not formed for Apollo-scale landers, it is unknown how much the larger landers being planned for upcoming Artemis missions will erode the surface and whether they will rapidly cause cratering in the landing zone, posing a risk to the lander's stability and astronauts aboard.

To improve its understanding of plume-surface interactions (PSI), researchers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, have developed new software tools to predict PSI environments for NASA projects and missions, including the Human Landing System, Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, and future Mars landers. These tools are already being used to predict cratering and visual obscuration on upcoming lunar missions and are helping NASA minimize risks to spacecraft and crew during future landed missions.

The team at NASA Marshall recently produced a simulation of the Apollo 12 lander engine plumes interacting with the surface and the predicted erosion that closely matched what happened during landing. This animation depicts the last half-minute of descent before engine cut-off, showing the predicted forces exerted by plumes on a flat computational surface.

Known as shear stress, this is the amount of lateral, or sideways, force applied over a set area, and it is the leading cause of erosion as fluids flow across a surface. Here, the fluctuating radial patterns show the intensity of predicted shear stress. Lower shear stress is dark purple, and higher shear stress is yellow.

These simulations were run on the Pleaides supercomputer at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing facility at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley over several weeks of runtime, generating terabytes of data.

NASA is showcasing 42 of the agency's computational achievements at SC23, the international supercomputing conference, Nov. 12-17, 2023, in Denver, Colorado. For more technical information, visit: here.

Related Links
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
SpaceX says second Starship test launch could come as early as Friday
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 15, 2021
SpaceX expects to be able to launch the second test flight of its hulking Starship as early as Friday pending final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration. The company said it would host a live stream of the launch 30 minutes before liftoff once the test is approved. "Was just informed that approval to launch should happen in time for a Friday launch," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a post on X Monday. The Starship exploded over the Gulf of Mexico in April shortly after tak ... read more

GreenOnyx's Wanna Greens Makes Space Debut Aboard SpaceX CRS-29 Mission

AI-Powered Space Situational Awareness Boosted by Neuraspace-Deimos Collaboration

Big bang: Dutch firm eyes space baby

Cosmic currents: Preserving water quality for astronauts during space exploration

Heat Shield demo passes the test dubbed 'Just flawless'

SpaceX Starship disintegrates after successful stage separation

Starship Test Flies Higher: SpaceX Marks Progress Despite Late Test Incident

Rocket Exhaust on the Moon: NASA Supercomputers Reveal Surface Effects

Spacecraft fall silent as Mars disappears behind the Sun

The Long Wait

Here Comes the Sun: Perseverance Readies for Solar Conjunction

AI Chemist creates Mars-compatible oxygen catalyst from meteorites

China's BeiDou and Fengyun Satellites Elevate Global Weather Forecasting Capabilities

New scientific experimental samples from China's space station return to Earth

Shenzhou XVI crew return after 'very cool journey'

Chinese astronauts return to Earth with fruitful experimental results

Amazon's Project Kuiper completes successful tests of broadband connectivity

Instruments led by IRF selected for ESA potential future mission to either Mars or Earth's Orbit

Maxar hands over JUPITER 3, to EchoStar

Maritime Launch reports non-brokered private placement of convertible debentures

NASA's Deep Space Optical Comm Demo Sends, Receives First Data

ReOrbit's Report Highlights Software-First Satellites as Key Growth Drivers in Space Industry

Japan PM says experts to talk in China seafood row

Rice researcher scans tropical forest with mixed-reality device

Hubble measures the size of the nearest transiting Earth-sized planet

Webb detects water vapor, sulfur dioxide and sand clouds in the atmosphere of a nearby exoplanet

Webb follows neon signs toward new thinking on planet formation

Supporting the search for alien life by exploring geologic faulting on icy moons

Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby

Fall into an ice giant's atmosphere

Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers

Salts and organics observed on Ganymede's surface by June

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.