University of Kentucky Partners with NASA for $ 15 Million Advanced Computing Center for Entrance System Simulation

LEXINGTON, Ky., June 2, 2021 – Researchers at the University of Kentucky are working with NASA to advance key technologies for exploring the moon, Mars and beyond.

Every few years, NASA creates Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs) in areas considered strategic for future technology and space exploration.

The new STRI – called the Advanced Computational Center for Entry System Simulation (ACCESS) – will also be led by the University of Colorado and will include the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Minnesota and the University of New- Mexico, as well as international collaborators from England, Italy and Portugal.

Alexandre martin, Professor of mechanical Engineering, will lead the UK part of the work, which will focus on the modeling of thermal protection systems (heat shield), one of the four research axes covered by the institute.

“The idea is to bring everyone together and have a cohesive group. The project involves researchers who have known each other very well for 10 or 15 years, ”he said. “It makes scientific sense. “

ACCESS will focus on the creation of thermal protection systems. These systems protect a payload – be it astronauts, scientific equipment or instruments – during a space capsule’s abrupt flight into the atmosphere of a distant planet or upon its return to Earth. .

The institute will advance the analysis and design of NASA’s input systems by developing a fully integrated, interdisciplinary simulation capability, which is essential for future plans to explore nearby planets that require the safe placement of large payloads on their surfaces.

“Entry, descent and landing technologies must continue to improve to meet the challenges of placing large payloads on other worlds, such as Mars,” Martin explained. “Accurate modeling and simulation of atmospheric entry systems is essential for the design and planning of these missions. “

To ensure safety, NASA has incredibly demanding entry system reliability requirements that cannot be fully met with today’s approaches. Achieving these goals will require interdisciplinary work in the fields of aerospace engineering, chemistry, radiation, materials, structures and reliability.

“Together, we will develop revolutionary capabilities through the use of validated high-fidelity physical models,” said Martin. “This breakthrough will be made possible by innovative numerical algorithms, high-performance computing and uncertainty quantification methods, with the aim of enabling assessments of the reliability of the computer input system.”

In addition, the project will allow the UK to help train the next generation of aerospace engineers at NASA.

“We will also be able to fund students, and they will do most of the research. And they will interact with NASA, ”Martin said. “As in everything we do; students will be at the heart of this project.

Matthieu Beck, in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, and Hailong Chen, John Maddox and Savio Poovathingal, from Department of Mechanical Engineering, are also an integral part of the British team.

ACCESS, which builds on NASA’s past and NASA Kentucky funding, will receive around $ 15 million over five years, with around a quarter of the amount going to the UK. The university will also contribute an additional $ 1.4 million to the project.

Source: University of Kentucky

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