SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  STTR
Topic Num:  AF10-BT04 (AirForce)
Title:  Novel Materials for In-Situ Ablation Sensing
Research & Technical Areas:  Materials/Processes, Sensors

  Objective:  Investigate new material systems to self-sense and quantify ablation during ground and flight tests.
  Description:  The next generation of maneuvering reentry vehicles being designed for DoD applications will have requirements for system range and payload that will preclude conservative Thermal Protection System (TPS) design. To achieve precise vehicle guidance, navigation and control, the time-varying aerodynamic shape of such vehicles must be accurately known throughout the flight trajectory. Substantial research is required to develop the basic knowledge building blocks essential for the eventual development of both a predictive capability for the in-flight degraded shape of maneuverable reentry systems and innovative thermal protection systems. Characterization and modeling of the fundamental response of a high-temperature TPS material to the extreme hypersonic environment is critical. To facilitate such efforts, novel methods are sought to provide integrated, in-situ, quantitative measurements of material degradation and surface recession during ground and flight tests. Contributions are sought to transform the state of the art of ablation testing through development of a novel material and/or new sensing system that allows for non-intrusive, real-time evaluation of ablation as the ablation is occurring during testing. Simulations or computational methods for predicting ablation or quantifying ablation after the fact will not be considered. Research areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: - Investigations into novel materials that have characteristic signatures during high temperature ablation events - Development of non-intrusive, integrated ablation sensing techniques - Novel methodologies for the time-accurate quantification of surface degradation or recession

  PHASE I: Identify and determine feasibility of novel method for the time-accurate quantified measurement of TPS material degradation or recession in an extreme aerothermodynamic environment. Conduct a bench-top scale proof of concept.
  PHASE II: Develop, demonstrate and evaluate a prototype capability based on Phase I approach. New materials should be able to withstand minimum heat fluxes of 113 W/cm2.

  PHASE III

  DUAL USE COMMERCIALIZATION: Military Application: Develop and demonstrate new real-time, non-intrusive ablation test capability on hypersonic test asset. Improve ability to determine real-time ablation of material during hypersonic asset testing. Commercial Application: Allow real-time measuring of ablation during spacecraft re-entry allowing for on the fly safety and mission modifications.

  References:  1. R Gosse and E Alyanak, “Micro-Mechanical Ablation of Carbon-Carbon Materials,” AIAA Paper 2009-1564, 2009. 2. D Bianchi, F Nasauti and E Martelli., “Coupled Analysis of Flow and Surface Ablation in Carbon-Carbon Rocket Nozzles,” Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, vol 46, No 3, June 2009. 3. HK Tran and DJ Rasky, “Thermal Response and Ablation Characteristics of Light-Weight Ceramic Ablators,” AIAA Paper 93-2790, 1993.

Keywords:  ablation, sensing, time-accurate, materials, non-intrusive, spacecraft reentry

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