Magnetohydrodynamic power generation for planetary entry vehicles

S. O. Macheret, M. N. Shneider, G. V. Candler, R. W. Moses, J. F. Kline

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

11 Scopus citations


A new concept under development at NASA, called Regenerative Aerobraking, attempts to harvest a portion of the power lost during planetary entry. One approach under investigation is magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) power generation that may possibly capitalize on the ionization created during atmospheric entry. To better study the potential of that approach, a new analysis capability was developed that combines the computational capabilities of hypersonic aerodynamics and MHD physics to model the processes in the ionized shock and boundary layers in magnetic field. This paper highlights the new analysis capability by presenting some results for a ballute geometry during hypersonic entry into the Martian atmosphere. The results show that with 1% potassium seed injected into the shock layer, MHD power generation at a level of at least several hundred kilowatts per meter of ballute circumference can be extended to flight velocities as low as 3.5 km/s (or even lower). If the total time of deceleration to 3.5 km/s is 30-40 seconds, then at least several gigajoules of energy can be generated during the ballute descent. The total amount of potassium seed required is about 50-100 kg. These findings are very encouraging for the Regenerative Aerobraking concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication35th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference
StatePublished - 2004
Event35th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference 2004 - Portland, OR, United States
Duration: Jun 28 2004Jul 1 2004

Publication series

Name35th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference


Other35th AIAA Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference 2004
CountryUnited States
CityPortland, OR

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