Combining Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Space Exploration

In our research group, we combine an interest in space exploration with fundamental computational fluid dynamics research. Our areas of interest include investigating plume-surface interactions during powered descent of spacecraft, modeling supersonic parachute inflation, hybrid rocket propulsion for small satellites, and modeling geophysical phenomena, such as the plumes on Enceladus or Yardangs on Earth and Mars! We are always looking for new and exciting projects as well.

parachute in spaceNASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image during its descent to Mars, using its Parachute Parachute Up-Look Camera A. This camera is mounted on the spacecraft's backshell and looks up at the parachute. This is one still frame from a sequence captured by the camera while taking video. This image was acquired on Feb. 22, 2021 (Sol 2) at the local mean solar time of 10:24:26. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Broadly speaking, we combine fundamental high-speed compressible computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with problems related to space exploration and geo-physical flows. Current active areas of research include:

  • Modeling supersonic parachute inflations for landing spacecraft on Mars

  • Particle laden flow modeling related to plume-surface interactions during powered descent

  • Hybrid rocket combustion modeling for SmallSat Propulsion

  • Modeling geo-physical phenonema, such as Yardangs on Earth and Mars, and the plumes on Enceladus