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Ground-based experimental facility for orbital aerodynamics research: Design, construction and characterisation

Oiko, VTA; Roberts, PCE; Macario-Rojas, A; Edmondson, S; Haigh, SJ; Holmes, BEA; Livadiotti, S; ... Villain, R; + view all (2020) Ground-based experimental facility for orbital aerodynamics research: Design, construction and characterisation. In: Proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC. IAF Green open access

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Abstract

In very low Earth orbits (VLEO), below 450 km altitude, the aerodynamic properties of satellites are primarily determined by the flow regime, free molecular flow, and the interaction of atomic oxygen with the surfaces of the spacecraft. The Rarefied Orbital Aerodynamics Research (ROAR) facility is a novel experimental facility designed to simulate these conditions in a controlled environment to characterise the aerodynamic properties of materials. It is built as part of DISCOVERER, a Horizon 2020 project developing the different technologies required to enable the sustainable operation of satellites in VLEO. Because ROAR isn't intended to perform erosion studies, it differs quite significantly from other atomic oxygen exposure experiments and its characteristics are discussed in this work. ROAR consists of an ultrahigh vacuum system, responsible for generating the free molecular flow conditions, a source of hyperthermal oxygen atoms at orbital velocities, and mass spectrometers; the latter used to characterise the gas-surface interactions, and therefore the material's aerodynamic performance. This paper includes a description of ROAR's main components, together with the experimental methodology for materials testing and early results. Among the main parameters to be considered are atomic oxygen flux, beam shape and energy spread, mass resolution, and signal-to-noise ratio.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Ground-based experimental facility for orbital aerodynamics research: Design, construction and characterisation
Event: 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) – The CyberSpace Edition, 12-14 October 2020
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://iafastro.directory/iac/paper/id/60120/summ...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Atomic oxygen, very low Earth Orbit, gas-surface interactions, free molecular flow, vacuum, mass spectrometry.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10132420
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