Radiative Heating of Large Meteoroids During Atmospheric EntryOPEN ACCESS 

Christopher O. Johnston, Eric C. Stern, Lorien F. Wheeler

Icarus, In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 21 February 2018



• Navier-Stokes flowfield simulations with coupled radiation and ablation developed
• Ablation reduces the radiative heating to a meteor by nearly an order-of-magnitude
• Predicted heat-transfer coefficients are an order-of-magnitude less than the canonical 0.1 value
• New heat-transfer coefficient model has noticeable impact on burst height and ground footprint”

“A high-fidelity approach for simulating the aerothermodynamic environments of meteor entries was developed, which allows the commonly assumed heat transfer coefficient of 0.1 to be assessed. This model uses chemically reacting computational fluid dynamics (CFD), coupled with radiation transport and surface ablation. Coupled radiation accounts for the impact of radiation on the flowfield energy equations, while coupled ablation explicitly models the injection of ablation products within the flowfield and radiation simulations. For a meteoroid with a velocity of 20 km/s, coupled radiation is shown to reduce the stagnation point radiative heating by over 60%. The impact of coupled ablation (with coupled radiation) is shown to provide at least a 70% reduction in the radiative heating relative to cases with only coupled radiation. This large reduction is partially the result of the low ionization energies of meteoric ablation products relative to air species. The low ionization energies of ablation products, such as Mg and Ca, provide strong photoionization and atomic line absorption in regions of the spectrum that air species do not. MgO and CaO are also shown to provide significant absorption. Turbulence is shown to impact the distribution of ablation products through the shock-layer, which results in up to a 100% increase in the radiative heating downstream of the stagnation point. To create a database of heat transfer coefficients, the developed model was applied to a range of cases. This database considered velocities ranging from 14 to 20 km/s, altitudes ranging from 20 to 50 km, and nose radii ranging from 1 to 100 m. The heat transfer coefficients from these simulations are below 0.045 for the range of cases, for both laminar and turbulent, which is significantly lower than the canonical value of 0.1. When the new heat transfer model is applied to a Tunguska-like 15 Mt entry, the effect of the new model is to lower the height of burst by up to 2 km, depending on assumed entry angle. This, in turn, results in a significantly larger ground damage footprint than when the canonical heating assumption is used.”