Modeling of glow radiation in the rarefied flow about an orbiting spacecraft

S. F. Gimelshein, D. A. Levin, R. J. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An approach for modeling visible glow radiation about a spacecraft in low Earth orbit has been examined. A new technique for simulation of surface chemical reactions based on the direct simulation Monte Carlo method is used. The study focuses on the sensitivity of glow radiation to the gas-phase reaction model and surface reaction cross sections in the altitude range from 140 to 200 km. Comparison of predictions for different gas reaction cross sections and surface parameters is given with the Atmospheric Explorer data. It is shown that although the radiance is increased by a factor of two when a quasi-classical model is used, the altitude dependence of the predicted radiation is the same as that obtained using the total collisional energy model. Furthermore, it is found that the influence of the freestream NO concentration on the total radiation is small for altitudes up to 200 km. The main contribution is the formation of NO in bow-shock gas-phase reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-479
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of thermophysics and heat transfer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
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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