PhD Studentship: Modelling of a magnetically enhanced plasma actuator for re-entry vehicle.

United Kingdom
Jun 23, 2016
Jun 22, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

PhD Studentship: Modelling of a magnetically enhanced plasma actuator for re-entry vehicle.

Engineering & the Environment

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Thursday 22 June 2017
Reference:  749916F2

Project Reference: NGCM-0086.

This project will numerically investigate the feasibility of magnetically enhanced plasma actuator to control the stability of a high-angle-of-attack reentry vehicle. Atmospheric reentry at a high-angle-of-attack offers the possibility to improve the performance of reusable launch vehicles. Through increasing drag at a high altitude, it can help to diminish the heat load integrated over the reentry trajectory. Although high-angle-of-attack reentry provides the potential to mitigate extreme heat loads during atmospheric reentry, a vehicle could encounter lateral/directional instability, particularly in yaw. Although the unwanted aerodynamic behaviour during high-angle-of-attack reentry can be controlled using a reaction control system (RCS) jet, the RCS requires additional fuel consumption and onboard mechanical devices that add extra weight to the vehicle. The project will propose a novel method to control the stability of a high-angle-of-attack reentry vehicle, which can alleviate the penalties of the RCS.

The aerothermal heating during atmospheric reentry causes a weakly ionised plasma to form around a vehicle. The project will utilise the weakly ionised plasma as a propellant to control the stability of a reentry vehicle through electromagnetic means, which is similar to an electric propulsion system. Compared to plasma flows in electric propulsion systems, the ionisation rate of reentry plasma flows is relatively low. The project will solve this technical limitation by providing an external magnetic field to concentrate charged particles. The feasibility of the proposed novel control method will be numerically investigated through state-of-art hybrid particle-continuum computational methods. The successful outcome of the project will introduce a novel method to control a reentry vehicle and bring hybrid DSMC/CFD computing capability.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Minkwan Kim (from July) or Charlie Ryan, Astronautics research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3881.

This project is run through participation in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Computational Modelling ( For details of our 4 Year PhD programme, please see

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