For many years now humans have been exploring outer space for a number of reasons. Whether the goal is to send a satellite into orbit or to explore other planets, we have always been interested in
discovering more about our universe. One of the most studied planets over the years has been Mars. There is interest in discovering if there is, or ever has been, any life there as well as determining if it is an
adequate planet for inhabitance. Regardless of the desire, the best way to study the planet is to of course go there. Numerous Mars Rovers have been sent to land on Mars in the hopes of learning more about the
terrain, atmosphere and biology. One issue that arises is the limitation as to where the rover can land due to the extremely high entry velocities. So far, the Rovers have only landed in areas equivalent to 2
kilometers below our sea level. NASA has interest in the ability to land in areas of higher elevation to explore unseen land. In addition to landing on higher ground, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) of NASA recently launched a Rover that is much heavier than in the past.
A possible solution to land a heavier Rover on higher ground is to deploy the parachute much earlier, at velocities up to Mach 2.5 (two and a half times the speed of sound). As a result, extreme pressure fluctuations occur due to a highly unsteady wake that
is shed off of the Rover capsule and interacts with the shockwaves that form at the parachute canopy3. The unsteady interaction forces fluid inside the canopy which then escapes, causing the canopy to
partially collapse on itself. This cycle repeats itself over and over during descent4.
These findings have come from previous research and experimental results. Professor Graham Candler from the University of Minnesota and his research team developed a numerical method to model a supersonic parachute entry scenario using US3D Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software. After the previous study they refined the method with the intent to reexamine the cases. The goal of this research project is to run these cases and analyze the results.