High-Enthalpy Testing of Thermal Protection Materials in the Plasmatron X for Titan Atmospheric Entry Mission

Sreevishnu Oruganti, Lorenzo Capponi, Benjamin M. Ringel, Trey Oldham, Marco Panesi, Gregory S. Elliott, Francesco Panerai, Sergio Fraile Izquierdo, Nagi N. Mansour

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


As part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, the Dragonfly mission aims to advance our search for the building blocks of life on Saturn’s moon, Titan. In 2034, the Dragonfly rotorcraft will fly through Titan’s dense nitrogen-based atmosphere to identify the chemical components and processes producing biologically relevant compounds, and to investigate Titan’s exotic atmospheric and surface properties. During dense-atmospheric flights, the safety of vehicles and payloads mostly relies on a proper selection and sizing of the Thermal Protection System (TPS). Ground testing include the use of Plasma wind tunnels for high-enthalpy response of thermal protection materials, studying gas-surface interactions and heat shield ablation in a pristine and flexible test environment. In this work, we focus on the aerothermochemical response of carbon-based ablators to high-enthalpy nitrogen flow, close to Titan entry trajectory peak-heating conditions. Experiments are performed on instrumented test articles assemblies of FiberForm, PICA, and samples prepared with inserts of Room Temperature Vulcanized silicone, which is used as a gap-filler for tiled heatshields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624107115
StatePublished - 2024
EventAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024 - Orlando, United States
Duration: Jan 8 2024Jan 12 2024

Publication series

NameAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024


ConferenceAIAA SciTech Forum and Exposition, 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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