Dr. Michael Winter
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Kentucky
Airborne Observation of Capsule Re-entries - Stardust, ATV Jules Verne, and Hayabusa
Although understanding of re-entry physics has significantly improved since the first attempts to return bodies from space in the 1960s, flight data on re-entry plasma and material response is still scarce, in particular with respect to high speed entries as exyperienced during interplanetary return missions. One reason is certainly seen in the small number of interplanetary return missions. However, even these few opportunities usually do not provide on-board diagnostics to record material response or aerothermal characterization data since the primary mission goal usually consumes all available payload capacity. Furthermore, on board diagnostics often are considered a risk factor jeopardizing the primary mission goal, i.e. to return the payload safely to Earth.
In the last decade, four airborne observation missions of spacecraft re-entries have been conducted by NASA: Genesis (2004), Stardust (2006), ATV-1 Jules Vernes (2008 in collaboration with ESA), and Hayabusa (2010, in collaboration with JAXA). In the presentation, the missions and selected experiments and their results will be presented, lessons learned will be discussed, and recommendations for future missions, in particular through onboard diagnostics, will be given.
Dr. Winter got his diploma and his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Stuttgart where he worked as a scientific collaborator until 2008 on research and development of electric propulsion systems for space applications and application of plasma diagnostics to propulsion and re-entry plasmas. After spending one year at Ecole Centrale in Paris, he worked at NASA Ames Research Center on optical plasma diagnostics for re-entry applications, mainly related to material testing of heat shield materials in the high power arc-jet facilities. Since 2012, Dr. Winter is a faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. He currently teaches "Radiation Heat Transfer" and "Spacecraft Propulsion"; his research interests are plasma related optical diagnostics, surface emissivity measurements at high temperatures, gas surface interactions in re-entry plasmas, flame propagation in wildfires, and electric propulsion.
BSB, Room A.207