Andrew Hinkle receives NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship to work on Dusty Hypersonic Entry Flows

Andrew Hinkle, a Ph.D. student in aerospace engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has recently received a prestigious NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF), which is awarded every year to a select group of graduate students in the United States who show significant potential to contribute to NASA’s goal of creating innovative new space technologies for our nation’s science, exploration and economic future.  

Andrew’s research under this fellowship will focus on the modeling and simulation of the impact of hypersonic particle-laden flows on planetary entry aerothermodynamics and radiative heat transfer. High velocity flows experienced during planetary reentry pose difficult challenges to both human and robotic spaceflight. The thermal environment experienced in reentry is as dangerous as it is difficult to predict and analyze. Furthermore, analysis challenges such as flows involving particles like dust and spalled thermal protection system (TPS) material lead to further uncertainties in vehicle performance during the entry, descent and landing (EDL) phases of missions, requiring the use of generous design margins in TPS thicknesses. The objective of Andrew’s research is to develop and validate a particle flow simulation tool, with two-way coupling with computational fluid dynamics and radiation codes of NASA, and perform uncertainty quantification (UQ) of the effects of particle-laden flows on deployable hypersonic decelerators including the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD) and Adaptable, Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) configurations. 

“Hypersonic particle-laden flows can be experienced in a number of mission scenarios where spallation of the TPS material can occur, such as entry into Mars during or shortly after a global dust storm or entry into Earth at high velocities experienced in lunar or Mars return trajectories.. The accurate modeling of these particle-laden flows will be crucial for the design of TPS for future spacecraft planned for human Mars missions such as the HIAD and the ADEPT concepts,” says Dr. Serhat Hosder, professor of aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T. Hosder is Andrew’s Ph.D. advisor and will serve as the principal investigator for the NSTRF project. 

The fellowship, which started in the fall of 2019, is intended for four years with renewal every year. The award includes a stipend, tuition allowance, faculty advisor allowance and on-site NASA Center experience allowance for the student each year. During his fellowship, Andrew will spend his summers at the Aerothermodynamics Branches of NASA Langley and Ames Research Centers and will collaborate with Dr. Chris Johnston, his NASA mentor, and other researchers working on planetary entry aerothermodynamics.