One of NASA's plans for future mars entry, descent and landing missions includes an ambitious deceleration process involving retropropulsion in a supersonic airflow environment. I know that previous missions made use of subsonic retropropulsion. I'm curious to know what challenges are expected from extending this technique to the supersonic regime. Particularly, I'm curious how supersonic retropropulsion affects the aerodynamics and heat transfer differently from the subsonic case, especially in the presence of shock waves.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is a really interesting question! It's a tad broad as written though, it might need an answer the size of book as asked. If you don't get a helpful answer you might consider narrowing it down a bit. From "...how supersonic retropropulsion affects the aerodynamics and heat transfer differently..." maybe you could focus on something specific, like just the heat transfer from the shock wave to the spacecraft for example. Since IR absorption of radiative heat transfer is critical and is a function of exhaust chemistry, you might specify which propellant combination also. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 9, 2017 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ Here is an excellent video of Max Fagin's thesis defense: youtu.be/GQueObsIRfI and the slides: drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx641q2IprHiZXZ4cmdIbl9hRnc/view and one source for the thesis document itself drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx641q2IprHic1ZNMTcyaC1EYnc/view It can be found elsewhere as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 9, 2017 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ Some links to NASA plans for Mars entry would be handy. Also Max Fagin's thesis defense is really good. $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2017 at 6:39


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