Magnetohydrodynamic energy generation and flow control for planetary entry vehicles

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Ali, Hisham K.
Braun, Robert D.
Walker, Mitchell L. R.
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Proposed missions such as a Mars sample return mission and a human mission to Mars require landed payload masses in excess of any previous Mars mission. Whether human or robotic, these missions present numerous engineering challenges due to their increased mass and complexity. To overcome these challenges, new technologies must be developed, and existing technologies advanced. Resource utilization technologies are particularly critical in this effort. This thesis aims to study the reclamation and harnessing of vehicle kinetic energy through magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) interaction with the high temperature entry plasma. Potential mission designs, power generation and power storage configurations are explored, as well as uses for the reclaimed energy. Furthermore, the impact and utility of MHD flow interaction for vehicle control is assessed. The state of the art for analysis of MHD equipped planetary entry systems is advanced, with the specific goals including: development of performance analysis capabilities for potential MHD equipped systems, identification of systems or configurations that show promise as effective uses of MHD power generation, experimental designs for developing technologies applicable to MHD power generation systems, assessment of MHD flow interaction and beneficial use for entry vehicle control through drag modulation, and increasing the technology readiness level of MHD power generation architectures for entry, descent and landing.
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