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ESA/Airbus Daedalus

MTS-CFD were awarded a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus to model satellite interaction with the lower Earth atmosphere. The ESA Daedalus project will be a very low Earth orbit (VLEO) mission designed to provide measurements between altitudes of 80 km and 140 km.


Figure left, simulated orbits of the main Daedalus satellite (green) and of a deployed sub-satellite (red)

The mother satellite, along with its four smaller deployable satellites, will be equipped with a suite of sensors and instruments to provide measurements of the amount of energy deposited in the upper atmosphere by solar effects.

Atmospheric drag

However, at the orbital altitudes considered, atmospheric drag is still a significant issue and the hypersonic orbital velocities will lead to the generation of a shockwave, which will compress the atmosphere ahead of the satellites. This will lead to increased heating and pressure loads on the sensors, which must be quantified to ensure they can survive this, and the measurement of increased densities behind the shock. 

Figure right, Daedelus Spacecraft Instrumentation.

Figure left, spacecraft observation geometry: Daedalus s/cwith extended field booms; four electric field booms are arranged in X-formation in the along-cross-track plane and two booms are aligned vertically(left). Ram direction instrumentation(right).

There is therefore a need to quantify the perturbation of flow quantities across the shock in order to relate the measured properties to the undisturbed atmospheric properties. The objective of this activity is thus to obtain a modelling of the hypersonic flow interaction for Daedalus, i.e. how it disturbs the flow and distribution of the atmospheric plasma and neutral observables. The modelling work will be carried out by MTS-CFD in collaboration with the University of Glasgow.


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