Rocket Plumes


white_plume-1Dr Craig White, in the School of Engineering at the University of  Glasgow is using ARCHIE-WeSt to investigate the expansion of rocket plumes to near vacuum conditions, and to predict chemical contamination in a porous surface regolith. For future space missions in which soft landings on extra-terrestrial bodies will be required, it is important to understand the interaction of the propulsion system with the surface of the body. During the landing phase, the surface regolith can become contaminated with the chemicals presents inside the rocket plume. For a sample return mission, it is necessary to minimise the degree of
contamination in the collected soil so that it can be analysed reliably upon return. The body’s surface topography may also be altered by the presence of the rocket plume through an erosion process, which could have implications for the physical process of collecting soil samples. Finally, the interaction of the nozzle plume and the surface regolith will lead to the generation of a dust cloud that could lower the effectiveness of the spacecraft’s soft landing navigation equipment and influence the forces and torques acting on the spacecraft.


For more information about the project contact Dr Craig White (craig.white.2 [at] glasgow [dot] ac [dot] uk), Lecturer at the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow.


For a list of the research areas in which ARCHIE-WeSt users are active please click here.