Navier/Stokes/Direct Simulation Monte Carlo Modeling of Small Cold Gas Thruster Nozzle and Plume Flows Public
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This study involves the modeling of small cold-gas (N2) thrusters nozzle and plume flows, their interactions with spacecraft surfaces and the induced pressure environment. These small cold-gas thrusters were used for pitch, yaw and roll control and were mounted on the bottom of the conical Environmental Monitor Payload (EMP) suborbital spacecraft. The pitch and yaw thrusters had 0.906 mm throat diameter and 4.826 mm exit diameter, while the roll thrusters had 1.6 mm throat diameter and 5.882 mm exit diameter. During thruster firing, at altitudes between 670 km and 1200 km, pressure measurements exhibited non-periodic pulses (Gatsonis et al., 1999). The pressure sensor was located inside the EMP and was connected to itâ€™s sidewall with a 0.1-m long, 0.022-m diameter tube and the pressure pulses appeared instantaneously with the firings for thrusters without a direct line-of-sight with the sensor entrance. Preliminary analysis showed that the plume of these small EMP thrusters undergoes transition from continuous to rarefied. Therefore, nozzle and plume simulations are performed using a combination of Navier-Stokes and Direct Simulation Monte Carlo codes. This study presents first a validation of the Navier-Stokes code Rampant used for the continuous EMP nozzle and plume simulations. The first Rampant validation example involves a two-dimensional axisymetric freejet expansion and is used to demonstrate the use of Birdâ€™s breakdown parameter. Results are compared favorably with those of Bird (1980) obtained through the method of characteristics. The second validation example involves three-dimensional plume simulations of a NASA thruster. This nitrogen nozzle has a throat diameter of 3.18 mm, an exit diameter of 31.8 mm, half-angle of 20 degrees, stagnation temperature of 699 K, stagnation pressure of 6,400 Pa. Simulation results are compared favorably with previous Navier-Stokes and Direct Simulation Monte Carlo numerical work. The third validation example involves three-dimensional simulations of Rotheâ€™s (1970) nozzle that has a throat diameter of 2.5 mm, an exit diameter of 20.3 mm, half-angle of 20 degrees, operating at stagnation temperature of 300 K and pressure of 1975 Pa. Numerical results also compared favorably to experimental data. The combined Navier-Stokes/DSMC approach and the EMP simulation results are presented and discussed. The continuous part of the EMP nozzle and plume flow is modeled using the three-dimensional Navier-Stokes Rampant code. The Navier-Stokes domain includes the geometry of the nozzle and the EMP base until transition of the continuous flow established by Birdâ€™s breakdown parameter. The rarefied part of the plume flow is modeled using the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo code DAC. Flowfield data obtained inside the breakdown surface from the Navier-Stokes simulation are used as inputs to the DSMC simulations. The DSMC domain includes the input surface and the EMP spacecraft geometry. The combined Navier-Stokes/DSMC simulations show the complex structure of the plume flow as it expands over the EMP surfaces. Plume reflection and backflow are demonstrated. The study also summarizes findings presented by Gatsonis et al. (2000), where the DSMC predictions at the entrance of the pressure sensor are used as inputs to a semi-analytical model to predict the pressure inside the sensor. It is shown that the pressure predictions for the pitch/yaw thrusters are close to the measurements. The plume of a pitch or yaw thruster reaches the pressure sensor after expanding on the EMP base. The pressure predicted for the roll thruster is larger that the measured. This is attributed to the uncertainty in the roll thruster location on the EMP base resulting, in the simulation, in a component of direct flow to the sensor.
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