Effect of nonlocal vacuum ultraviolet radiation on hypersonic nonequilibrium flow

I. Sohn, Z. Li, D. A. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During high Mach number reentry into Earth's atmosphere, spacecraft experience hypersonic nonequilibrium flow conditions where molecules are dissociated and atoms are weakly ionized. Since the electronic levels of atomic species are strongly excited under these high Mach number conditions, the radiative contribution to the total heat load can be significant. The modeling of radiative transport is further complicated by radiative transitions occurring during the excitation process of the same radiating gas species. This interaction affects the distribution of electronic state populations and, in turn, the radiative transport. The radiative transition rate in the excitation/deexcitation processes and the radiative transport equation must be coupled to account for nonlocal effects. A quasi-steady-state model is presented to predict the electronic state populations of radiating gas species taking into account nonlocal radiation. The definition of the escape factor that is dependent on the incoming radiative intensity from over all directions is presented. To perform accurate and efficient analyses of radiation from a chemically reacting flowfield, the direct simulation Monte Carlo and the fully three-dimensional photon Monte Carlo radiative transport methods are used. The effect of the escape factor on the distribution of electronic state populations of the atomic N and O radiating species is examined in a highly nonequilibrium flow condition, and the corresponding change of the radiative heat flux due to the nonlocal radiation is also investigated. It is found that inclusion of the escape factor increases the upper electronic state populations by about a factor of 2 with a similar increase in the radiative heat flux to the vehicle surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-406
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of thermophysics and heat transfer
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Space and Planetary Science


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