For more than half a century, nations across the globe have been sending astronauts into space. However, ensuring the spacecraft lands successfully and astronauts return safely remains a major concern. Engineers must create vehicles that can withstand extreme heat and pressure during re-entry. Additionally, it is crucial to conduct in-depth research and comprehend the aerodynamics, deceleration, and trajectory dynamics involved in the re-entry process.

This tech brief presents a comparison between numerical methods for calculating lift and drag coefficients during reentry into the Mars atmosphere and experimental data that was obtained from the Viking reentry capsule. This detailed analysis offers valuable insights into the accuracy and limitations of these numerical methods.

You will find a detailed description of the motivation for numerical modeling of re-entry vehicles, the computation methodology used, the challenges of modeling atmospheric chemistry, the use of Fidelity Pointwise unstructured meshing, and of 2 case studies: the RAM C-II research probe and the Viking 1 Lander.