Non-equilibrium aerodynamics for planetary-entry spacecraft

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Professor Richard and Dr Rowan

The design of planetary-entry spacecraft is critically reliant on modelling the interactions between the hot gas layer and the airframe during the atmospheric descent phase. Currently, a lack of understanding of these interactions is limiting the scope and benefit of these spacecraft designs, and ultimately, limits the viability of space-based activities. The aim of this project is to study these non-equilibrium aerodynamic processes, with both experimental and numerical techniques.

This project brings together research teams from NASA Ames, CentraleSupelec Paris and Oxford University and is led by The University of Queensland. This network of researchers will use their unique and complementary wind tunnels to produce the non-equilibrium flows for experimental study. The experimental data from these experiments will be used to update, refine and improve the numerical models for these hot gas/airframe interactions.

The PhD student in this project will perform experiments in the UQ expansion tubes on model vehicle configurations in gases relevant to Earth and Mars entries. The PhD project is suited to a student with a strong background in aerospace engineering or physics, a desire to develop expertise in experimental fluid mechanics, and a keen interest in the space sector.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of fluid mechanics and quantum mechanics would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of mechanical or aerospace engineering, or physics and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of gas dynamics and radiation heat transfer is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Apply now